(Photo property of Grace Chiu, USA Gymnastics)
I'm currently about halfway through my blog about the All Around Final, but I wanted to go ahead an touch on a potentially very serious injury that occurred today. Sandra Collantes, a competitor from Peru fell on bars and according to the associated press suffered injuries to her legs, neck and back. (There are pictures of her on the link that are a little bit disturbing, so just prepare yourself.)
I'd like to start off by saying that my heart goes out Collantes, her family and her coaches. It isn't my intent to play the blame game, I just want to start a conversation.
In prelims Collantes scored a 48.625, which leaves her over 5 points short of what is needed for a senior to qualify to USA's Visa National Championships. In the USA, Collantes would have never qualified as an Elite.
But you can't compare the two! Things are different in Peru. It's like comparing apples to oranges, right?
When looking through her scores, both Elite and JO, one thing is fairly consistent throughout: her bars scores. From her 10.25 in Pan Ams Prelims to a 6.6 at an invitational this spring, Sandra has consistently had low scores on bars. She has had a few 9.1s & 9.2s, but these are outnumbered by the lower scores.
While I'm not, nor have ever been a gymnastics coach (I did sub for Cartwheeling Cubs classes when I worked at the Y, haha,) I have to wonder: if you have a gymnast who is struggling at the JO level on bars, why would you encourage her to compete bars at an even higher level? Plenty of Gymnasts don't compete all four events and Sandra could have just as easily competed 3 events and spared herself possibly career ending injuries. She also could have stayed a Level 10, and potentially received a college scholarship.
There's not very much information on Collantes out there, so I'm not completely sure if she was born in the US and competes for Peru in a similar way that Gebeshian or Church did or if she moved from Peru to train with the coaches at Excalibur. Regardless, I think that USA has a good system to qualify for elite. In addition to reaching an optional score, girls are forced to get a minimum of an 8.75 average on compulsory routines. That way they make sure that you can hold a cast handstand before encouraging you to do a tkatchev.
I admittedly have not seen a video of the injury, and do not even know what skill it was on. Perhaps it was a freak accident and had nothing to do with coaching or skill choices. In any case, I wish Sandra a speedy recovery and a quick return to the sport.