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Injured Cucherat Hopeful for Fourth Olympics
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French star Yann Cucherat will miss this week's national championships in Nantes, but told IG he is hopeful his injured hand won't keep him from a fourth consecutive Olympic appearance. Pictured: Cucherat recites the Athlete's Oath at the 2012 Men's European Championships in Montpellier, France, where he injured his hand.

Two-time European champion Yann Cucherat will miss this week's French championships in Nantes, but told IG he is hopeful his injured hand won't keep him from a fourth consecutive Olympic appearance.

Cucherat, 32, smashed his hand on parallel bars on May 24, during the qualification competition at the men's European championships in Montpellier, France. He suffered bruised metacarpal bones and sprained index and middle fingers.

"After talking with the national coaches, the director of the national team and the president of my region, we decided that I will not participate in the French championships to better recover from this injury," Cucherat told IG on Sunday. "The Olympic team will be decided the night following the national championships. We'll see if I will be on it, but I have hope."

Cucherat is one of France's most decorated gymnasts, winning back-to-back titles on parallel bars at the 2009 and 2010 European championships. He won the bronze medal on parallel bars and silver on high bar at the 2005 Worlds. He was a finalist on parallel bars at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, finishing sixth in each final.

Three-time French Olympian Yann Cucherat

Despite the injury in Montpellier, Cucherat finished his routine on parallel bars. He even competed on high bar in the next rotation, performing well enough to qualify for the final.

The veteran said he knew "immediately" he was injured, but felt compelled to finish the competition for the sake of his team. The qualification competition mirrored the format of team finals, in which only three gymnasts competed on each event with all scores counting.

"I had pain in my hand and my fingers, but it was a team competition and I didn't want to abandon my teammates," said Cucherat, whose perseverance helped France qualify in third place.

However, Cucherat's injury was not the only one for the unlucky French men in Montpellier. In the team final, Samir Aït Saïd crashed his Dragulescu vault, resulting in a score of 0.00 and last place for France. Aït Saïd, the top qualifier to the still rings final, suffered a broken patella and will miss this year's Olympic Games in London.

Third at the 2010 European championships, the French men have been plagued by repeated injuries. Benoît Caranobe, the 2008 Olympic all-around bronze medalist, suffered a torn Achilles' tendon and broken ankle on floor exercise at the 2010 Worlds in Rotterdam. Danny Rodrigues, fifth on still rings at the 2008 Olympics, underwent shoulder surgery in 2010. Pierres-Yves Bény, a finalist on still rings at the 2004 Olympics, tore his biceps in 2011.

One of gymnastics' cruelest injuries struck 2010 world vault champion Thomas Bouhail, who suffered a broken leg and torn knee ligaments in December. Bouhail has undergone 15 surgeries and nearly had his leg amputated, making it unlikely the Olympic silver medalist will be able to resume his gymnastics career.

Cucherat offered his perspective on the series of injuries.

"Of course our sport is dangerous and there are normal risks that we must face," he said. "But the French team also has had bad luck over the past two years. I hope that we can escape this negative spiral because our team is strong but with the injuries we haven't been able to perform to the best of our ability."

Cucherat, who turns 33 in October, is undecided if he will end his competitive career this year. He has hinted at a career in politics in his native Lyon.

"There are actually some paths in that direction, but for the time being my priority is just gymnastics and the Olympic Games," said "After that we will see. For sure I want to stay in sports and particularly in gymnastics, and my main goal is to serve the interests of the sport."

External Link: Official Website of Yann Cucherat

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