García 'Back in the Game' As Olympics Approach
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Winding down her long journey to the Olympic Games, Mexican star Elsa García told IG she is back "in full training mode" following a knee injury and is finalizing her routines for London.

Winding down her long journey to the Olympic Games, Mexican star Elsa García told IG she is back "in full training mode" following a knee injury and is finalizing her routines for London.

On Saturday, García successfully tested out her new routines at an exhibition at her home club, Regio Club Gimnástico, in Monterrey. She debuted a new floor routine and landed her new beam dismount.

García hyperextended her right knee during warm-ups for the vault final at the 2012 Olympic Test Event, held in January in London, where she earned an individual berth for the upcoming Olympics. The Monterrey gymnast called it a "weird" knee injury.

"It was a hyperextension of the ligaments around the knee and connection between the bones, because as my knee went backward my bones crashed into each other," said García, who turned 22 in February. "No surgery was needed, but I used a knee cast for a while and then pure rehab, slowly regaining mobility and strength."

Since then, García has gradually regained competitive form, starting off by competing all four events at the Mexican championships in May.

"My performance was exactly as planned," she said. "It was the first competition after my injury so it was to get back in competition form but without doing very difficult skills — letting myself know that I was back in the game. [I did] only bars and beam with full difficulty skills, vault all I did were Yurchenko layouts and on floor I did my first two passes with my coach spotting me, and the rest were very simple tumbling passes."


Elsa García (Mexico)

In June, García won the Olimpiada Nacional, a multi-sport event organized by the Mexico's National Commission on Physical Culture and Sport. She competed without any signs of the knee injury, tumbling a double layout and full-in on floor exercise.

"I recently competed at our country's National Olympiad doing four full routines packed with almost every difficulty I will be showing in London," she said. "Hopefully just missing an upgrade to a double-twisting Yurchenko on vault and a Patterson dismount on beam."

Coached by Antonio Barraza and Alejandra Rodriguez at Regio, the elegant García has been a fan favorite since her junior days. She had a breakthrough season in 2007, winning the all-around bronze at the American Cup and seven World Cup medals (including two golds). But a leg injury hampered her performance at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, dashing her dreams of competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Regio clubmate Marisela Cantú qualified instead as the top Mexican gymnast in Stuttgart.

García rebounded from the disappointment to place 12th all-around at the 2009 World Championships in London, the top finish for a Mexican gymnast in world championships history. García also qualified to the vault final in London, in the same arena which will play host to this year's Olympics, and won the Longines Prize of Elegance.

Regio's Ana Lago (47th) and García (63rd) were the top performers for Mexico at last October's world championships in Tokyo, the first qualification event for the Olympic Games. García said she thought that meant she and Lago would advance to the second qualification event in January.

"It had been stated that throughout the training camps and competition results of 2011 that would be our selection process for the London Test event, and Lago and me were the top two gymnasts elected," she said. "But entering December of that year, our federation decided that there would be a new selection process, and they decided to let us know of their decision within two days in advance of the stated date. There were a lot of unhappy gymnasts and coaches with that decision so the selection meet was moved up to Jan. 4, just days before the London Test Event. It was a very dramatic selection process but the result was the same - Ana Lago and I came as the top two gymnasts and finally earned our spots for the London Test Event."

In London, García placed 17th with 54.431, but most importantly placed third among individuals competing without full teams. Lago placed 41st (52.349), also high enough among individuals to earn a qualification. But FIG rules stipulated that only one individual per nation could advance based upon all-around qualification, and the Mexican federation gave the nod to García.

The knee injury in the event finals could have derailed her Olympic dream yet again, but García persevered.

"It took me almost four months to start up doing gymnastics again," she said. "Now I'm back training at my hometown gym doing final preparations for the big event."

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