Larisa Iordache had spent months recovering from injuries when she arrived in Montreal for 2017 Worlds. This was to be her big comeback and she was the favourite to take the all around title, with Simone Biles out for the season. When their qualification session rolled around, the Romanians were to start on floor, along with the Swiss. The gymnasts took turns doing passes from corner to corner, just like any other competition. Larisa opted for a basic warm-up pass with a simple back handspring series, but as she landed the last one, it was clear something was seriously wrong. She rebounded into the air, her arms waving frantically, then collapsed in the corner, clutching her left heel. Several minutes later, she was carried off the podium and taken away in a wheelchair, her competition over before it had even begun.
The one upside was that there was still plenty of time until Tokyo, even with the year out usually required for a torn Achilles to fully heal and training to resume. The general opinion was that she could be back by early 2019 and still have eighteen months to go until the Olympics, with plenty of time to perfect her routines. However, Larisa’s bad luck continued. Following her first operation, her Achilles tore for the second time. A second surgery was also unsuccessful. Almost an entire year after her initial injury, Larisa went to Vienna for a third operation. Now losing hope, she announced that there was only a 50/50 chance of her being able to compete again, so her announcement this week that her surgery had been successful and that she had been cleared to resume training was met with joy from gymnastics fans around the world.
Larisa can only start with basic training, so there is still a long way to go, but this is extremely positive news, especially when the situation seemed so hopeless just a few months ago. Best of luck, Larisa!