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Alicia Sacramone injured, to miss gymnastics world championships

Alicia U.S. gymnast Alicia Sacramone, the defending world vault champion and a returning Olympic medalist, injured her Achilles tendon during a training session in Tokyo on Wednesday and won't be in the lineup when the U.S. begins competition Saturday at the world championships there.

The Americans are aiming for a top-eight finish in the team competition, which would assure them a spot in the 2012 Olympics.

Sacramone was the only returning Olympian sent to Tokyo who also was a member of the 2008 team that brought home the silver medal. Three other members of that team -- Shawn Johnson, Bridget Sloan and Chellsie Memmel -- are part of the U.S. squad that will compete in the Pan-American Games in Mexico later this month.

Competing for the U.S. in Tokyo will be, on vault, Sabrina Vega, Gabrielle Douglas, Alexandra Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney of Laguna Hills; on uneven bars: Raisman, Maroney, Vega, Wieber, Douglas; on balance beam, Maroney, Vega, Raisman, Wieber, Douglas; and on floor exercise, Douglas, Vega, Wieber, Maroney and Raisman.

Former UCLA gymnast Anna Li, an uneven bars specialist who was a surprise pick for the team because of her swinging skills, is also out of the competition because of an abdominal injury, leaving the U.S. thin on that apparatus. In the qualifying round, five gymnasts compete on each apparatus with the top four scores counting. In the finals only three gymnasts compete and all three scores count.

Johnson, the 2008 all-around silver medalist who also won team and floor exercise silver and balance beam gold, was designated as an alternate for the team competing in Japan. But because Sacramone's and Li's injuries occurred after the team had already arrived in Tokyo, it was too late for Johnson to travel to the competition. Johnson is less than a year into her comeback from retirement after the 2008 Olympics.

It will be an inexperienced team now that tries to earn the U.S. its Olympic spot. Maroney, just 15, Vega and Douglas, who trains with Johnson in Iowa, are all first-year senior-level gymnasts.

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-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Alicia Sacramone. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press.

 
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