After a considerable period of time during which all eyes were on the Rio de Janeiro gymnasts, the Brazilian press is finally paying some attention again to the São Paulo girls, Daiane dos Santos and Laís Souza, both of whom are recovering from surgical interventions.
Daiane dos Santos underwent osteotomy at the end of October 2008 to realign the bones of her right leg. According to an October 21 Globoesporte article, Daiane had become so knock-kneed that she needed surgery to straighten her leg. At the time, her doctor, orthopedic specialist Wagner Castropil, explained that he was going to make a ten-degree (!) correction to Daiane's right knee, using a titanium plate. He predicted the athlete would be able to jump again within six months. After the operation, Daiane (who intends to go on competing until the 2012 Olympics, when she will be 29) jokingly said that she was going to use the time away from the gym to find "the best floor exercise music ever."
Daiane dos Santos watches as her doctor explains at a press conference what he is going to do to her knee (photo: Agencia Estado/Globoesporte)
For her part, Laís Souza underwent arthroscopy (a relatively minor procedure) in late October to remove some cartilage from her right knee. She was expected to be out of action for two months at most. However, we guess her recovery wasn't as straightforward as expected, because three months onward, Laís is calling the situation "complicated" and seems pessimistic about her chances of taking part in the World Championships in October. Sounds like something didn't go completely according to plan there...
Anyhow, UOL Esporte caught up with the two girls last week. Here's a translation of the story, which also features a tidbit on Jade Barbosa's competitive plans for the new year.
Daiane speeds up recovery and "boycotts" the first half of the year to be able to take part in the World Championships
Daiane dos Santos is engaged in a race against a clock to recover from the surgery carried out at the end of last year and to take part in the World Championships in London, in October. In order to be able to compete in high-level competitions [later on in the year], the gymnast from Rio Grande do Sul has decided not to take part in any competitions in the first half of 2009. Now aged 25, Daiane still hopes to be a contender for a podium place at the English competition.
"I'm following all the medical recommendations I've been given and I'm taking care of the physical side of things," said the gymnast. "Even though I can't run and engage in many aerobic activities because of my knee, I'm trying not to gain too much weight." Staying away from competitions for the time being, Daiane will skip at least six World Cup competitions.
Daiane holding her troublesome right knee
At the end of 2008, Daiane underwent osteotomy in her right knee, a surgical procedure aimed at correcting skeletal deformities. It was Daiane's fourth knee operation. In 2001, the gymnast was operated on the patellar tendon of her left knee. In 2003, just weeks before the Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo, Daiane underwent arthroscopy in her right knee. The third operation took place in June 2004, in the runup to the Athens Olympics, when the athlete once more had a piece of cartilage removed from her right knee.
Despite the fact that she has not competed since the Beijing Olympics, Daiane still weighs about 41 kilograms, the same weight she had in China. The gymnast finished sixth on floor and was part of the first Brazilian team to make an Olympic gymnastics final. Before the Games, Daiane was considering retiring in 2009. However, she now believes she will be able to obtain better results in London. The 2003 world champion on floor did not manage to qualify for the final on her best event at the last world championships, held in Stuttgart, Germany. Even so, she is confident. "I feel I can still do a better job. If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't compete," she stated.
Although she prioritizes floor, Daiane has not been able to train on that apparatus since undergoing her most recent surgery. For the time being, the gymnast uses the equipment at Pinheiros, the São Paulo club where she trains, only to work out on the uneven bars. However, she is not risking any landings. "[Bars] is an event where you don't have to put any strain on your knees. It's the only event I can do at the moment. But in the second half of the year I will be ready to work on my floor exercise," she said.
Pinheiros teammates Laís Souza and Daiane dos Santos (photo: Globoesporte)
Laís Souza, who, like Daiane, trains at Pinheiros, is not quite so optimistic about the World Championships anymore. She, too, is recovering from surgery on her right knee. Last year she had some pieces of cartilage removed from her knee, and now she is trying to recover.
"It's complicated. I only have limited time to get back in shape, and I don't want to go to London just to participate. Right now I don't want to give a prognosis. We'll wait and see how I'm doing in October," said the gymnast.
The women's team has not yet been named by the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation, but Laís is not the only uncertain case on the team. Jade Barbosa, who suffers from a rare condition called necrosis in her capitate bone, which causes bad blood circulation in her central bone, does not know either whether she will be in a position to compete in London.
In the event that [Jade] is not 100 percent ready for the competition, it is possible that she will only do beam, which will not require her to put a great strain on her injured hand. Daniele Hypólito is the only one of the stars of the team who is in good shape. The rest of the team will be determined by means of a selection camp whose date has not yet been established.
And finally, there's this bit of news, from another source...
Up-and-coming star Juliana Santos, an elegant gymnast who recently represented Brazil at the Arthur Gander Memorial and the Swiss Cup, is recovering from the shoulder surgery she had at the end of last year to cure the repetitive strain injury from which she had been suffering ever since March 2008. According to her coach, Adriana Alves, Santos is expected to be back in full training by the end of April. "The stitches have been removed and she's using a sling. She has begun training without the use of her arms, doing exercises for her lower limbs," Alves was quoted as saying by the site of Santos's club, Grêmio of Porto Alegre.
Juliana Santos (photo: Stefan Wurzer/Gymnasticsunited)