An Alabama Gymnast’s Road to Recovery
Alabama gymnast Luisa Blanco competed the entire 2021 season with a torn labrum and a bicep tendonitis, but that didn't stop her from etching her name in the Alabama gymnastics record book.
Blanco was a first-team All-American-All-Around, the 2021 NCAA balance beam champion, and won many other accolades in the 2021 season. She was also the first Bama gymnast to score a perfect 10.0 on the balance beam since Kaitlyn Clark in 2014, according to AL.com.
Following a stellar season, Blanco underwent shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery kept her out of the all-around for the first three meets of the season. Blanco competed on the uneven bars and beam every competition and the floor twice before making her vaulting debut against the Auburn Tigers. Her debut on vault was far from what she had hoped, but she bounced back this week in the tri-meet. She scored a 9.900 against Western Michigan and UNC. Blanco sad it felt great to compete in the all-around.
"I love competing all-around. It's a completely different feeling," Blanco said.
While one would never know by the way she performs, Blanco tends to doubt herself. She hopes to continue building her confidence as the season continues. Alabama gymnastics head coach Dana Duckworth said that Blanco "loves a pep talk."
"We take deep breaths together. We kind of settle in... I think it just lets her really hit reset in each event," Duckworth said.
Those pep talks really seem to help Blanco, especially on arguably the hardest event: balance beam. Coach Duckworth can be seen talking to each gymnast before they mount the beam. After having a balance break in warmups, Blanco followed Duckworth's pep talk with a 9.950 worthy beam routine.
Blanco seems to have ice running through her veins every time she competes on beam. Even in high pressure situations like the SEC Championship meet last year, Blanco always seems to come up with a huge beam routine.
The Crimson Tide will need her to continue to perform at a high level the rest of the season if they hope to make their second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championship meet later this season.
You can watch Blanco and the rest of the Bama gymnastics meet Friday at 7:30 p.m. against arch rival Georgia. The theme is power of pink to raise awareness for breast cancer.