Japanese gymnast suffers serious spinal injury in training

Kitakyushu (Japan) (AFP) – Japanese gymnast Hitomi Hatakeda suffered a serious spinal injury on Wednesday after falling off the uneven bars in training, the Japan Gymnastics Association said.

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Hatakeda, who appeared at the Tokyo Olympics, was taken to hospital and diagnosed with damage to her central spinal cord and bruising of the cervical vertebrae.

The 21-year-old qualified for Thursday's world championships all-around final in fourth place in Kitakyushu, in western Japan, but was forced to withdraw.

Hatakeda is coached by her mother Yukiko. Her father, Yoshiaki, is a former gymnast who won bronze in the team event for Japan at the 1992 Olympics.

Her younger sister, Chiaki, is also a gymnast.