WEST ALLIS, Wis., Sept. 28, 2011 – Chellsie Memmel of West Allis, Wis., underwent surgery on Friday, Sept. 23, to repair a torn biceps tendon near her right shoulder. The tear was discovered through an MRI taken after she returned home from the recent World Championships and Pan American Games Selection Camp at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, an official U.S. Olympic Training Site.
"I had the MRI the day I got home from camp," said Memmel, who was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that won the team silver medal. "With next year in mind and considering the recovery time, my doctors decided the best course of action was to have surgery right away instead of waiting until after competition and taking the chance I could have made it worse.
"I was looking forward to competing in the Pan Am Games because I competed there in 2003 and had good luck," said Memmel, who won the all-around, uneven bars and team gold medals at the 2003 Pan American Games. "I was really happy with how far I had come after taking time off (to rest my shoulder) after the Visa Championships. I was looking forward to competing in a larger competition, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. I am very disappointed to miss the Pan American Games. I wish the World Team and the Pan Am Team nothing but the best of luck. I also want to thank my friends, fans and teammates for their support and best wishes."
Doctors believe Memmel tore the tendon during the final day of competition at the Visa Championships. Although it seemed better after several weeks rest, she could still feel something wasn’t right when she used her shoulder during training. Memmel’s recovery is expected to take around three months. She is currently sporting a sling and uses a special chair three times a day to keep her arm in motion. Memmel hopes to begin physical therapy next week.
"I should be able to do some things at three months," Memmel said. "During that time, I am going to do what I can to stay in as good a shape as possible. I will go to the gym for leg and stomach conditioning, and when I can start moving my arm, I will do as much as I can. I don’t want to have to get back into gymnastics shape again."
In 2005, Memmel became the first U.S. woman since Shannon Miller to win the women’s World all-around gold medal. She has six career World medals – all-around, team, uneven bars gold medals; and team, uneven bars and balance beam silver medals. She also has the team silver medal from the 2008 Olympic Games. Memmel returned to competition earlier this year after taking some time off after the 2008 Olympic Games. She trains at M&M Gymnastics and is coached by her father, Andy.
"I am really focused on next year," said Memmel, "and I am happy this procedure wasn’t that involved. I am hoping to come back even stronger."