Aurora’s Li out of Games
BY SUN-TIMES MEDIA July 26, 2012 11:39PM
Aurora's Anna Li , who was named an alternate on the Team USA Women's Gymnastics, suffered a neck injury this week during training on the uneven bars. Li, a 2006 Waubonsie Valley graduate, was told she will not be going to London 2012 Olympic Games. | Photo courtesy~Anna Li
Updated: August 28, 2012 6:24AM
Aurora’s Anna Li isn’t heading to the London Olympics after all.
USA Gymnastics announced Thursday via Twitter that Li is “no longer training as [a] replacement athlete” after she suffered a torn neck ligament in a fall this week on the uneven bars.
“When Anna Li fell from the uneven bars July 24, she injured her neck and is wearing a cervical collar as a precaution,” a USA Gymnastics statement said. “She tore a ligament in her neck, and she has been advised to wear the collar as well as check with a physician upon her return to the States. As a result, she is no longer training as a replacement athlete.”
The 2006 Waubonsie Valley High School graduate was selected as one of three alternates earlier this month.
At 23 years old, Li was considered a long shot. The other seven members of the team headed to London are between 15 and 18. Still, she persevered and won a spot as an alternate at the tryouts in San Jose, Calif.
Li knew she was about seven years past the prime age for Olympic-level competition, but she had family history on her side.
Her mother and coach, Jiani Wu, was a 1984 Olympic bronze medalist for China. Her father, Yuejiu Li, won silver for China that year.
Li’s family moved to the Aurora area from Las Vegas when she was 13, but she didn’t compete for Waubonsie. Instead, she became a Level 10 and Elite gymnast while training at her parents’ gym, Legacy Elite Gymnastics in Carol Stream.
From there, Li put together a stellar college career at UCLA, competing in the same gym her parents won their Olympic medals. As a senior in 2010, she helped lead the Bruins to the NCAA championship, earning first-team All-America honors in the vault and the uneven bars. She was named an All-American eight times in her career.
She got the itch to get back into the gym and worked her way back to Elite status.
From there, she won a bronze medal in the uneven bars at the U.S. national championships in St. Paul, Minn., last August, qualifying her for the national team. Li is a specialist in the uneven bars, which happens to be Team USA’s weakest event. But she faced an uphill climb to make the team because all-arounders typically get more consideration because of their ability to back up at multiple events in case of injuries.