Memmel Ready to ‘Prove It’
By Alexa Ainsworth, Universal Sports
Chellsie Memmel is set to compete at CoverGirl Classic later this month after nearly two years away from elite competition. The 2005 world all-around champion spoke with UniversalSports.com about the nerves, an unexpected setback caused by her sister’s dog, and how she feels with just over one year until London 2012.
Were there times when you wondered if this was the right thing for you?
There were definitely some hard days. There always is. This is the first time I’ve taken a complete break from gymnastics, which was nice because my body needed a break- and my mind. The hardest part for me is getting back into shape and into gymnastics shape. That goes away so quickly and it’s hard to get it back. The skills came back pretty easily. It was putting those skills into routines and having that routine endurance that takes time. I’m still building that up. I’m not in full form yet.
You can run and you can do intervals on the bike, but there’s nothing you can do to fully stimulate doing a bar routine. You have to do them. That’s been the hardest part – getting back routine stamina and endurance.
When did you begin to feel like, “I’m back”?
Actually pretty recently. Bars has been the slowest to come back. I had a couple untimely things I had to take time off for. I tweaked my shoulder a little [in February] and then I had an accident with my sister’s dog. It was an accident, but he sliced my finger. I had to take two weeks off bars [in March]. I felt so pathetic, but it was deep and I didn’t want it to get infected and have to take even more time off, so I had to let it heal.
I finally felt like okay, this is totally possible just a few weeks ago. When everything started to get easier and I actually felt the progress being made I felt, ‘Okay this is possible. I can do this.’
What happened with your sister’s dog?
It was just one of those freak accidents. I had a basketball in my hand and he went for the basketball and got my pinkie instead. It was a big canine tooth. It was only on bars I took two weeks off.
What are the advantages to be an ‘older gymnast?’
Definitely experience. I’ve competed at so many different competitions, so many different countries, different venues, just knowing to expect anything. It’s always a – hurry up and wait. The drawbacks are not bad. You do less numbers. My body can only handle so many numbers, but then I know I have to make those routines count.
What do you hope fans and others take away from your comeback?
I just want them to know that I’m serious about it. I’m doing it for me and for the team. I’d love to see the team get a gold medal and if I can help them do that then I would love to be a part of it. There’s no motivation from anywhere else except for me. Not having the experience I wanted personally and as a team [in Beijing] – it’s always that ultimate goal of an Olympic medal and this time it would be great to have a team gold medal.
Is it any less pressure knowing that you have made the Olympic Team once before?
Yes and no. It’s not any different because you always have to prove yourself. Nothing is given to you. You have to go out and prove that you can do it and prove that you’re going to be an asset for the team. That doesn’t change. No matter how many Olympic teams or world medals that you have, you are not a shoe-in for anything. You still have to prove it.
Do you feel under the radar?
I haven’t made a huge hype about my comeback. I’ve been training. I’ve been in the gym. Some people know it. Some people don’t. I’m totally fine with that. I have my goals. I know what they are and hopefully I’ll get a chance to show everybody.