Alicia Sacramone, one of the leaders of the 2008 Olympic team that won a silver medal in Beijing, announced today that she plans to make a comeback. You won't see her on the competition floor at next week's U.S. Championships, but the 21-year-old Massachusetts native assured Inside Gymnastics Magazine that she will be making a return, probably as a vault and beam specialist.
“I am coming back, that much is decided,” she says happily. “How far I’m gonna get with that, we’ll see. I don’t know exactly what the process is going to be. I’ll probably take the rest of the summer off, just to heal up. Then I’ll start getting back into the gym in the Fall. As far as National Team stuff, I’ll leave that all up to Mihai to deal with, but hopefully I’ll be starting to compete the beginning of next year and then the main goal right now is  Worlds.”
Sacramone, whose sky-high tumbling won her a world floor title in 2005 and cliched the team gold medal for the U.S. women at the 2007 World Championship, hardly had the Olympic Games of her dreams. During the team final, she fell on her balance beam mount (a difficult front flip in the pike position) and sat down her second tumbling pass and went out of bounds on floor. The U.S. finished second to China.
Lest it be assumed that Sacramone's errors cost the U.S. the gold (they didn't) there was an outpouring of support from the gymnastics community, which included an editorial posted by International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile titled "Alicia, It's Not Your Fault."
After finishing fourth in the vault final in Beijing, Sacramone declared she was officially done with gymnastics and headed to Los Angeles, where she's been interning with clothing maker Tank Farm. She told Inside Gymnastics she'll be heading back to the east coast and longtime coach Mihai Brestyan at the end of the summer, after letting her beaten up body heal awhile longer. She also mentioned transferring from Brown, where she competed on the gymnastics team during her freshman year, to another university, possibly Harvard, Boston University or Boston College.
Sacramone's return would give the U.S. team another strong vaulter, as well as another leader with tons of international experience. As far as this year is concerned, sixteen-year-old Kayla Williams of West Virginia has emerged as a leading contender to be a vault and floor specialist for the 2009 World Championships in London. Both Williams and Sacramone train the same two vaults -- a double twisting Yurchenko and a handspring laid-out front with one and a half twists.
On the internet, news of Sacramone's return has left many U.S. gymnastics fans virtually jumping for joy.
"OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG," wrote Jen, a Cincinnati-based gymnastics enthusiast and freelance writer who manages the gymnastics blog Full In Full Out. "In case it escaped your attention, I am thrilled out of my mind. I adore Alicia, not only as an athlete, but as a person. She's strong but vulnerable, a team player AND an individual star. She'll be brilliant as a two-event specialist, saving her body and polishing her routines until they gleam with gold-plated perfection. This is major news, people. MAJOR NEWS."
All I can say is sweet and I'm very happy she's coming back!