An article and caption that ran in the Aug. 5 Montgomery Extra contained three errors: First, U.S. gymnast Courtney Kupets suffered an Achilles tendon injury, not a knee injury as stated in the headline. Kupets' coach was misidentified; her name is Kelli Hill. And the photograph that ran with the article pictured Courtney McCool, not Kupets. (Published 8/19/04)
Despite the coaching staff's best efforts, a feeling of normalcy was difficult to maintain over the past few weeks at Hill's Gymnastics in Gaithersburg.
Things just haven't been the same since Courtney Kupets, in just her third meet after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, won the all-around title at the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 27 and secured a spot in the upcoming Athens Olympic Games.
Kupets and Olympic Coach Kathi Hill left for the Olympic Team training headquarters in Colorado on Friday but the excitement surrounding Kupets' quest for gold remains at Hill's.
"We're pretty boring here," said Jennifer Bundy, an assistant coach at Hill's who has been working with Kupets for seven years. "It's a lot of pressure to have a lot of excitement, and we haven't tried to single Courtney out. Obviously everyone is thrilled and excited for her. We've just tried not to put extra pressure on her."
Kupets tore her left Achilles tendon at the world championships in Anaheim, Calif. on Aug. 19, 2003, marring a terrific performance and putting her budding gymnastics career in jeopardy.
"She came back from surgery really smoothly," Bundy said. "She didn't perform in her first all-around until a week before the [U.S. National] Championships [on June 6]. It wasn't until USAs that we really thought, 'Okay, she might have a shot.' "
Kupets placed first at the U.S. National Championships and followed with another first place finish at the Olympic Trials.
Now she has a gym full of fans in Gaithersburg hoping she can add one more first-place finish this summer.
"I'm going to watch her on TV," said 10-year-old Shannon Mitchell, who practices at Hill's. "I can't wait. It's real exciting. Everybody wants to watch."
Added 11-year-old Concepcion Jones: "I think it's great. It's pretty exciting. I know she is real excited about going to the Olympics."
Regardless of the outcome, the Magruder High School rising senior is going to have a heck of a story to tell about her summer.
"We really didn't know what it was going to be like for her when she came back from her injury," Bundy said. "We were thrilled and excited and totally happy for her [when she made the Olympic Team]. But beyond that, we were just so happy that she is able to compete again."