TOKYO -- Beijing Olympic captain Alicia Sacramone has a torn Achilles tendon and expects to have surgery Monday.
The London Olympics begin in less than 10 months, and USA Gymnastics said Friday that Sacramone's recovery time won't be known until doctors see exactly where the tear is. Sacramone will have an MRI and meet with a doctor who specializes in Achilles tendon injuries after she returns to the United States on Saturday.
"Alicia is good," said her coach, Mihai Brestyan. "We need to fix her for the Olympic Games."
Asked if he thought Sacramone can make it back, Brestyan said they need to wait until she sees the doctor.
"It looks OK now," he said. "She has no pain, she's in good spirits."
John Orozco, a member of the U.S. men's world team, blew out his Achilles tendon at the 2010 U.S. championships and was competing again in June. He finished third at this year's nationals. German star Fabian Hambuechen is competing here after tearing his Achilles in January. And Courtney Kupets tore her Achilles tendon at the 2003 world championships, and recovered in time to make the U.S. team for the Athens Olympics.
Though the loss is a big blow for the inexperienced Americans, they should have little trouble finishing in the top eight at the world gymnastics championships and securing a spot at next summer's London Olympics. The U.S. women compete Saturday, along with defending champion Russia and China.
The U.S. had a good day of practice Friday, Brestyan said, and the fact Sacramone is in such good spirits is rubbing off on the rest of the team.
"She's a help to everybody. She needs to play the captain to the last moment," Brestyan said. "Everything is OK, we are OK."
Sacramone's injury leaves Aly Raisman, another of Brestyan's gymnasts, as the only American who has competed at a world championships before -- and that was just last year. The remaining four gymnasts -- U.S. champ Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Sabrina Vega and Gabrielle Douglas -- are all first-year seniors.
Sacramone would have provided big scores on vault, where she's the defending world champion, balance beam and floor, and the Americans will now have to put up every gymnast on each event in qualifying, where five gymnasts compete and the top four scores are counted. The format changes for team finals, where three gymnasts compete on each event and all three scores count.
"I am so disappointed to not be able to compete and be a part of this team's ... success," said Sacramone, who was hurt while doing a tumbling run during training Thursday. "This is an incredibly talented and wonderful group of girls and I have great confidence in their ability to go out and represent the United States to the best of their ability."