If the U.S. women's gymnastics team is looking for a mascot, they mightconsider the Six Million Dollar Man.
Two key athletes were lost to injury and another was left hurting duringthe World Championships in Anaheim, Calif., last August. A makeshift squad wonthe team gold medal - a first - but the victory was shadowed by concerns thatthere might not be enough healing time before the Summer Games.
However, it appears the athletes, doctors and trainers have borrowed themotto of the TV show from the 1970s: "We have the technology."
After the first training camp of the Olympic year, team officials say theyare pleased with the progress of Courtney Kupets, the 2003 U.S. nationalchampion and a student at Magruder High School in Montgomery County, and AnniaHatch, the 2003 U.S. vault champion.
"Their recovery is very much ahead of schedule and gave every indicationthat they will be able to recover in sufficient time to be a contender for theOlympic team," said Martha Karolyi, national team coordinator, during ateleconference.
Members of the national team worked out at "Camp Bela," the nickname forthe USA Gymnastics Women's National Team Training Center, which is on theTexas ranch of former U.S. team coordinator Bela Karolyi, husband of Martha.
Kupets, 17, tore her left Achilles' tendon during warm-ups for the floorexercise and had surgery just days later. Team officials had expected herrecovery to take eight months.
"She is in great physical condition. Her progress is really encouraging,"said Martha Karolyi. "She is already able to perform on the balance beam,except her dismount, and able to do all of her skills on uneven bars."
Kupets, the 2002 world champion in the bars, said the hardest part ofrehabilitation was exercising patience.
"I was antsy at first," she acknowledged. "I wanted to start right awayafter the surgery."
Hatch, 25, injured her knee at the World Championships and had notpracticed at the training center.
"She can perform all her skills on uneven bars, and her dance on beam and aback handspring on beam. She needs one more month to be able to complete moredifficult skills," said Karolyi.
Even Carly Patterson, who suffered an elbow stress fracture before theWorlds but still won the silver medal for all-around performance, is backworking on her vaults.
The next training camp is scheduled for Feb. 20-24 as the lead-up to theVisa American Cup on Feb. 28 at Madison Square Garden.
"The training camp is the greatest opportunity for the girls and coaches tobe able to come together as a team," said Karolyi. "The atmosphere is better.The team spirit is built up."
Male gymnasts gearing up
Men gymnasts, who won the team silver medal at the Worlds last August, alsoare getting ready for international competition leading up to the Olympics.
Six slots on the men's team will be filled on Feb. 6 and 7 at the WinterCup Challenge. The Las Vegas event is considered the first step towardselection of the Olympics team in June.
Four of the athletes - 2003 World Championship gold medalist Paul Hamm,Jason Gatson, Morgan Hamm and Blaine Wilson - will be using the Winter Cup toprepare for the Visa Cup.
M. Jones set to return
She's been on the mommy track since giving birth to a son last June. Nowfive-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones is ready to return to trackcompetition at the 97th Verizon Millrose Games on Feb. 6 at Madison SquareGarden.
Jones, who has never participated in the Millrose Games, will compete inthe women's 60 meters for a first-place check of $10,000.
The Millrose Games, the oldest invitational meet in the country, will betelevised on NBC from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Feb. 7.
3 track stars honored
They were inducted in December, but the public had to wait until yesterdayto see the names of distance runner Mary Decker Slaney, sprinter John Carlosand quarter-milers Larry James and Mike Larrabee engraved in glass at the new$8 million National Track and Field Hall of Fame in New York.
The three-story museum and archive is in the historic Armory Track & FieldCenter in the city's Washington Heights neighborhood.
Decker Slaney is a four-time Olympian who never won a medal, making herunique to this class of inductees. In the 1984 games, she fell in the3,000-meter final after becoming entangled with another runner. She held everyU.S. record from 800 to 10,000 meters at the same time and is a six-timeMillrose winner.
Carlos, the bronze medalist in the 200 meters in Mexico City in 1968, isperhaps best known for being one-half of the black-gloved protest team on thepodium with gold medalist Tommie Smith.
James won a gold medal as a member of the 400-meter relay team and silvermedal in the 400-meter run in 1968.
Larrabee, who died last year, won two golds at the 1964 games in Tokyo inthe 400 meters and the 400-meter relay.
Seven competitors have been chosen so far for the U.S. sailing team, andthree are Olympic veterans.
Lanee Butler Beashel (women's Mistral) has been selected for the fourthtime, as has Paul Foerster, who will team with three-time Olympian KevinBurnham in the men's 470.
The newcomers are Mark Mendelblatt (Laser), Peter Wells (men's Mistral),and Katie McDowell/Isabelle Kinsolving (women's 470).
Trials will continue next month in Florida for the Europe, Finn, 49er,Yngling and Tornado classes. The Star class will be decided in March.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun