It wasn't supposed to be like this. The University of Georgia was on track for the lofty 198.000 today when disaster struck; Courtney Kupets' achilles tendon gave way on the takeoff of her Double Arabian.
For the University of Georgia, it is a devastating loss. Kupets, the two-time reigning NCAA All-Around Champion, is the team's exclamation point. She has been thought to be a lock to break the NCAA record for individual titles (which remains a possibility upon her inevitable return next season) and has been the pizazz projecting her team to a fourth NCAA Team victory in a row.
With Shayla Worley visibly injured and lacking in confidence during today's American Cup, it appeared even more certain that Courtney Kupets would be providing her veteran leadership and heralded Uneven Bar abilities to the 2008 Olympic Team.
The gymnastics community is heartbroken today because Courtney Kupets has been adopted and beloved by fans all over the world for her positive attitude, unbelievable skills, genuine likability and incredible perseverance.
Countless other elite gymnasts have competed in NCAA Gymnastics and earned countless accolades, but it is Kupets who has been to one athlete to continually challenge herself and improve as a gymnast and a competitor over the past three years.
It would've been the perfect comeback to international competition. She is a World Champion, a two-time National Champion, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist, a seven-time NCAA Champion, and the scorer of 40 9.900+ scores during a single collegiate season (2006). She was 163 days away from leading the Americans to a big win over the Chinese on their home soil. It is the same title many blamed Kupets for costing the team in 2004 (though Patterson suffered three costly errors just two days before capturing All-Around gold).
All is not lost for Kupets or her team. While the loss of their star performer could likely cost the team a few tenths, it may be just the event needed to push the rest of the team to reach their maximum potential. Tiffany Tolnay and Katie Heenan have demonstrated remarkable consistency during the past few seasons and are waiting to bust out and dominate the field. With Katie Heenan's impressive 10.000 Vault today, Tolnay's season debut of her Yurchenko 1 1/2 after a battling a year-long mental block on the event, and McCool's 9.925-scoring return to the Uneven Bars, the Georgia Gym Dogs will remain a tough team to beat in April.
A year ago, it was Courtney Kupets who led the team chanting "How Bad Do You Want It" in the locker room in Salt Lake City after the team lost two key players. Now it's time for the team to return the favor and win it for Courtney.
The Performances of Courtney Kupets:
Her Olympic Experience
Where the Dream Began
The Day She Beat Khorkina
Coming Back For The Olympics
Under The Lights