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Mikulak re-injures ankle on eve of finals

CBSSports.com wire reports

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sam Mikulak's big night during preliminaries at the U.S. men's gymnastics Olympic trials came with a big price.

The 19-year-old spent Friday icing down his left ankle after a painful finish on vault during the final rotation on Thursday. Mikulak posted an overall score of 91.8 -- the highest of the night - but took a step out with his left foot while trying to stick the landing.

Stephen Mikulak, Sam's father and an orthopedic surgeon, said his son was "doing well" but added the ankle has been bothersome since Sam broke both of his legs just above the joint at a meet in Puerto Rico last summer.

Mikulak wore walking boots on both of his feet for several weeks after the injury and took his time rehabbing, though his father said "it never had a chance to get better."

The 2011 NCAA champion is considered a virtual lock to make the five-man Olympic team when it is announced on Sunday. He showed poise well beyond his years during preliminaries, cruising through six events while displaying the kind of cool that seems to come naturally to affable kid from Corona Del Mar, Calif., about an hour south of Los Angeles.

Mikulak appeared just fine while chatting with reporters and hanging out with teammates on Thursday night, so laid back he didn't even realize he'd won the night until teammate Jonathan Horton informed him of the results.

The ankle however, worsened on Friday and Stephen Mikulak said his son was undergoing a series of "soft tissue mobilizations" while taking anti-inflammatories to help deal with the swelling and the pain. He is expected to compete in the finals.

Mikulak's misstep on vault came when he rushed trying to get off the table and couldn't finish all three rotations necessary to stick the landing.

"He landed a little bit short," Stephen Mikulak said. "They haven't had a chance to protect [the ankle] as well as they need to. It's just a little more fragile."

The only real prescription for the ankle is rest, but that appears out of the question if Mikulak, who finished third at nationals two weeks ago, wants to head to London.

Last call

Nastia Liukin isn't quite ready to get misty-eyed.

Still, the 2008 Olympic champion knows this meet could be her last. She entered the preliminaries Friday night needing to show the selection committee she was ready to complete a full bars routine, something the failed to do in nationals three weeks ago due to nagging shoulder injuries.

It's been a quick eight months for Liukin, who announced her comeback at last fall's world championships and has spent most of the time focusing on bars and beam, knowing odds of making the team as an all-around candidate were slim. Though she wishes she had more time to prepare, she's not sure it would have mattered.

"I think if I would have started any earlier, I'm not sure my shoulder could have held up the entire way," the 22-year-old said. "My shoulder is as strong as it can be right now."

It just might not be strong enough to send her to London, meaning this weekend could be the final time she performs under the lights.

"It's been an extremely incredible 20-year journey but at the same time I think you have to kind of stay in the moment and be realistic about things," he said. "Of course, my dream would be to make a second Olympic team ... but I just want to put clean routines out there and prove I was able to come back."


Jonathan Horton is in the midst of his third and final Olympic trials and is no stranger to pressure.

Still, even the two-time Olympic medalist couldn't avoid an uncharacteristic mistake on Thursday. The 2008 silver medalist on high bar crashed to the mat during a release move in the middle of his routine, his first fall in the event in over a year.

"The bar did feel slippery, I don't know if that's what made me slip," Horton said. "It was just kind of a weird thing. I haven't missed that particular skill in a really long time at a meet."

That much was obvious. Horton stared at the grip on his right hand and took a few seconds to compose himself before hopping back on and finishing with a score of 14.2, 12th best in an event he has excelled at throughout his stellar career.

"In the air I was like, 'sweet, I'm right where I want to be, I'm doing it perfect,"' Horton said. "Then I grabbed the bar and hit the ground and I was like, 'What? OK.' I grabbed the bar and got back up and moved on. I know the guys selecting the team know I've hit that routine over and over again."

Touchdown price

If this gymnastics thing doesn't work out, Elizabeth Price can always turn to football.

The 16-year-old from Coopersburg, Pa., started gymnastics at age 3 because her parents thought she was a little too rambunctious. She's excelled, finishing fifth at nationals three weeks ago, thanks to potent athleticism.

"When I was younger I definitely was a tomboy and football was my second favorite sport," Price said. "At one point I told my mom `I really want to play football' and she said it was either football or gymnastics. But I was already in gymnastics, so I stuck with it and I'm glad I did."

Price played both quarterback and receiver while playing in her neighborhood and considers herself a Philadelphia Eagles fan. She could easily be Team USA's version of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. She's a blur on the vault runway, zipping across the floor in a flash.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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