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A good Buckeye story on Blain Wilson


Buckeye Beach Bum
Good luck in your Olympic trials and hope you get to Athens :oh:

Wilson meets personal, career challenges
By Jill Lieber, USA TODAY
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gymnast Blaine Wilson kneels in the Guardian Angel section of Resurrection Cemetery to brush the wilted honey locust leaves off the granite gravestone of his first child, Thade.

Olympic hopeful Blaine Wilson during a workout at Ohio State University last month.
By Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Wilson, a five-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian, visits this burial site, located just a mile from his house, several times a month to speak to his little boy, lost shortly before birth in September 2001.

Wilson reaches to touch a branch in the biggest tree, where his mother, Joan, has hung three wind chimes — an angel, a lighthouse and a sun. Their gentle melodies, floating through the June air, he says, are Thade talking back to him. "He's watching over me," Wilson says. "He's my guardian angel."

Empowered by the wisdom he draws from his little boy and the love of his wife, Makare, and their 20-month-old daughter, Wakaya, Wilson begins his quest for his third, and final, Olympic team Thursday at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in Anaheim, Calif.

If Wilson is successful in his bid, he would become one of the oldest U.S. gymnasts to make an Olympic team. He turns 30 on Aug. 3, the day before the team leaves for Athens, and he would be one of the most talked about comeback stories of the 2004 Games because of the challenges he has faced the last four years.

"It's my last hurrah," Wilson says. "It's my team. I don't care about anybody else but the six guys on the team. I think we can win the gold."

Before the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Wilson was nicknamed "the wild child of gymnastics," thanks to his cocky, Hell's Angels approach to a conservative, pretty-boy sport. Multiple tattoos. Numerous body piercings. A passion for motorcycles, bungee jumping and sky diving. And the compulsion to shoot from the lip.

Heading into Athens, however, Wilson is looked upon as the sport's mortal, ancient warrior. Battered by the USA's disappointing fifth-place finishes at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Torn apart by the death of his unborn son. Beaten down by injuries, including surgeries to reconstruct his right shoulder (June 2001) and reattach his left biceps tendon (March 2).

"His heart and his determination to compete at the Olympic level, that's what makes him such a great gymnast," says Miles Avery, Ohio State gymnastics coach. "He's one of the best in the world at floor, vault, rings and parallel bars, but it's his leadership that separates him from everybody else. The guys look to him as their leader; they voted him captain of the 2000 Olympic and 2003 world teams."

Making this Olympic team, Wilson's family and close friends say, would have a healing effect.

"My motto for Blaine has been: 'You need a medal to go on with your life,' " says Sheryl Shade, his agent. "This time around, it is all to prove something."

Wilson's father Bill, who started him in gymnastics at the age of 3, says, "All he has ever wanted was an Olympic team medal. It would fulfill him."

'Two peas in a pod'

The changes in Wilson began in the late 1990s, when he met his fiery match in volleyball player Makare Desilets, a native of Fiji and a University of Washington graduate, who also was training in Colorado Springs.

It didn't matter that she towered over him: She stands 6-2 and weighs 162 pounds; he is 5-4, 135.

"We're two peas in a pod," Wilson says. "We're not afraid to speak our minds. She likes to deal openly; I like to scream. We're both very stubborn."

He refers to Makare as his soul mate, and his parents say they complete each other.

They were engaged in August 2000, hours after Wilson won the all-around competition at the U.S. Olympic trials in Boston. Makare, who had failed to make the 2000 U.S. Olympic volleyball team, immediately left for Europe to play in a pro league. Wilson, meanwhile, headed to Sydney, where he struggled, partly because his injured right shoulder was pumped so full of cortisone, partly because he missed Makare so much.

"She's my best friend," says Wilson, who finished sixth in the all-around. "I can talk to her about anything. She calms me down. She softens all of my rough edges."

When she announced she was pregnant, they canceled their plans for a big wedding and were married by a justice of the peace in March 2001.

"This was the son he always wanted, the boy who would be 6 feet tall and do all of the sports he never could," Shade says. "So many hopes, so many dreams. It was all he could talk about."

Sept. 10, two days before her due date, Makare awoke at 6 a.m. with sharp abdominal pains. Because she already had experienced false labor, doctors told her not to come to the hospital until she was closer to delivering.

"I asked her if the baby was still moving, but she never answered because she was in so much pain," Wilson recalls.

When they arrived four hours later at the Ohio State University Medical Center, doctors couldn't find a heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed the worst.

"We were in shock," Makare says. "One moment, we were excited about starting our family; the next, our baby boy is gone."

A blood clot had formed, and the placenta pulled away from the uterus, causing fetal death. Doctors said it was an accident, occurring in one in 10,000 full-term pregnancies.

Then doctors told the Wilsons Makare would have to deliver her son.

"I didn't think it was possible," she says. "I wanted to die, too. Blaine was so good to me. He consoled me. We cried on and off all day. We didn't know what else to do."

Ten hours, and three epidurals, later, Makare delivered Thade Tawake Joseph Wilson.

"He looked absolutely perfect," Wilson's mother, Joan, says.

Neither Wilson nor his wife had wanted to hold their child, but they changed their minds as soon as they laid eyes on him. They cuddled him, took pictures, had him blessed by a priest, then kissed him goodbye. "We would have always regretted it if we hadn't held him," he says.

Trying to cope

A few hours later, the Wilsons checked out of the hospital, and the following morning, they awoke to the horrors of Sept. 11.

"Intense, back-to-back grief," he says. "I thought, 'What the hell is going on?' '

Shade says: "They got swallowed up in 9/11, and everybody else's grief. It allowed them to distance themselves from Thade's death — in less than 24 hours."

A week later, Wilson, who was recovering from right rotator cuff surgery, returned to the Ohio State gym and began running on the treadmill for hours at a time. Makare soon went to Chicago to resume her pro volleyball career. "Working out was the only way to express my misery," he says.

Two months later, Wilson phoned Shade and announced he was going to Athens. But it was months more before he could voice his grief.

"Makare was very open about it. She cried quite a bit, but I didn't cry as much as I should have," he says. "She blamed herself. Because she'd played volleyball during the first months of the pregnancy, she thought she'd caused his death.

"I, on the other hand, was just so angry. We were two healthy parents. Why had God let this happen?"

In early 2002, Makare announced she was pregnant again. This time, Wilson tempered his enthusiasm. He made excuses not to go to her doctor's appointments.

"He didn't want to get connected to something else he could lose down the road," she says.

Of course, the moment he saw Wakaya, he was smitten. She is named for a Fijian island. Her pictures are everywhere in Wilson's house. On the refrigerator. On the computer screen saver. On one entire wall of the living room.

Joan says that Wakaya looks exactly like Thade.

"Without the loss of one child, we wouldn't have another," Wilson says. "She's a precious gift."

Separation anxiety

Unfortunately, Wakaya has been Wilson's biggest sacrifice on his road to Athens. In January, Makare moved to Manhattan Beach, Calif., to compete on the pro beach volleyball circuit. She and partner Tyra Harper are ranked 11th. Wakaya lives with Makare's mother, Meriosi, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Wilson has seen his wife and daughter twice in the past 6 1/2 months — Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.

Being alone in the three-bedroom house (except for bulldog Kyla) was especially difficult this spring, after his biceps tendon surgery. He worked out four times a day, then hit 100 golf balls into a net in the nursery each night.

"The first thing that came to my mind when I got hurt was, 'This is our best shot, and this is my last Olympics,' " Wilson says. "I was furious. Now I was on a deadline to make my final dream come true."

Since March, Wilson has been pulled to the cemetery often, bringing flowers, balloons and teddy bears, taking comfort in the wind chimes. He would phone Wakaya and say, "Daddy's got a boo-boo." And she would just giggle. But he would confide in Thade as an adult, telling him, "I've hit a rough spot, but things will be all right." Then the melodies magically would begin bubbling through the air.

"I have no problem talking to Thade because he always listens to me," he says. Recently, he asked his mother, "When I die and go to heaven and meet Thade, will he be little? Or will he be my age? Because I want to get to know him."

Thursday in Anaheim, Wakaya will be listening and watching. Wilson's especially excited about the Olympic trials because Makare and Wakaya will be there with him, along with his parents and sister Amy. He plans to compete in all six events; he has been doing routines for only four weeks.

The other day, it was Makare who told Wilson the words he needed to hear: "You've matured so much since the last Olympics. You've done a great job of putting life in its proper perspective. Regardless of what happens, this is still the best comeback story ever."
Excellent read 94.

I'm sure that everybody in TOSU Community is pulling real hard for Blain to make the team. He is quite simply one of the greatest athletes that this school has ever produced.
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Great story!!

I had the privilege of watching Blaine train when he was in Junior High. My son is 4 years younger than Blaine and was on the youngsters team at Columbus Gymnastics Academy. Blaine and Drew Durbin, another former Buckeye gymnast, were the stars of the older boys team. And, believe me, Blaine was already the "wild child of gymnastics" way back then. We all knew he and Drew were going to be good, but we couldn't have imagined that Blaine would turn out to be America's greatest male gymnast. I put him right up there with Jesse Owens and Jack Nicklaus among Ohio State's greatest sports legends.

BTW Dubs, as cranky as you get when people misspell Coach Bruce's first name, I thought you might jump on OhioBuck for getting Blaine wrong. Instead, you repeated his mistake. :wink:
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Wilson added to Olympic team, Bhavsar an alternate

Didn't see these articles posted yet. Good job guys, go Bucks, and go USA!!!


Wilson caps comeback from torn biceps

Associated Press

Blaine Wilson capped an amazing comeback Thursday, making his third Olympic team less than five months after tearing his left biceps.

Wilson earned one of the two remaining spots on the U.S. men's gymnastics squad for the Athens Games after a two-day selection camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. Guard Young, a member of the 2001 and 2002 world championship squads, got the final spot, while Raj Bhavsar and 2000 Olympian Stephen McCain were selected as alternates.

Current world and national champion Paul Hamm, his twin brother Morgan, Brett McClure and Jason Gatson were already on the team, selected after last month's Olympic trials.

"It means so much to me to be a part of this team and represent my country," Wilson said. "I'm going to continue to get better. I'll be earning my spot every day because these guys have put everything they have into it.

"Every day, I'm going to be grateful for this opportunity and take full advantage of it."

Wilson, who turns 30 on Aug. 3, has been the country's pre-eminent gymnast for a decade, winning five straight national titles from 1996-2000 and competing at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. But he's never won an Olympic medal, a gaping hole that's kept him competing long after his peers retired.

He won his first world championships medal last summer when he helped the U.S. men take the silver, and figured to be part of the squad for Athens, where the Americans will be favored to win their first team medal since 1984.

But most figured Wilson was finished when he tore his left biceps completely off the bone Feb. 28 while doing his still rings routine at the American Cup. The recovery time for such an injury is normally six to seven months. The Athens Games begin Aug. 13.

"I knew right away that I'd be back," Wilson said. "Athens was never out of my mind. It was never a question whether I'd be back. I just needed a little time to get everything together."

After surgery March 2, he immediately began rehabbing, riding a stationary bike and doing exercises to maintain his core strength. He was back in the gym soon after.

Four months after the surgery, Wilson competed at the Olympic trials. He wasn't back to full strength, though, and didn't score anything above a 9.525. On rings, which are his specialty and one of the Americans' weaker events, the best he could manage was a 9.450.

Instead of naming the full team at trials, the selection committee left two spots open, to be decided at this week's camp. The extra 2½ weeks gave Wilson more time in the gym to train his routines, and it showed. His shoulder and biceps are 100 percent, and coach Miles Avery said he was the best on rings during the two-day competition.

Wilson sprained his ankle slightly when he rolled it during floor exercise, but it should be fine in three days.

Compared to everything else Wilson has overcome, Avery said, a sprained ankle is nothing.

"Knowing Blaine Wilson, you can't doubt him," Avery said. "His heart is tremendous for what he wants to do, and what he wanted to do was be a three-time Olympian. He just wasn't going to let anything stop him."

Though Wilson was thrilled with his spot, he did have mixed emotions because Bhavsar didn't make the squad. Wilson, the Hamms and Bhavsar all train together at Ohio State.

"Basically, the way I see it, I took his spot," Wilson said. "That's kind of difficult to deal with."

Bhavsar, a former NCAA all-around champion, is strong on rings, vault and parallel bars, and can also post a solid score on pommel horse. But he's not as strong on floor, one of Young's specialties.

Young, an assistant gymnastics coach at Oklahoma, also will be counted on for solid scores on rings and vault.

"Although we're doing jumping jacks and backflips inside, there are five other guys who are going home," Young said. "While we're happy for ourselves, we're sad for them."

Young, who turned 27 last month, is a second-generation Olympian. His father, Wayne, was on the 1976 team, and Wayne Young was in Colorado Springs, Colo., to watch the training camp.

"I really don't think it's sunk in right now," Guard Young said. "I've already won a medal at world championships, so I guess I'm one up on him now."


Raj Bhavsar out, yet in

Sandeep Dwivedi

NEW DELHI, JULY 16: Raj Bhavsar will be going to Athens but not for what he’d had in mind. He was picked for the US gymnastics team — though only as an ‘alternate’, losing the Roman Rings spot to his training mate, veteran Blaine Wilson. So Bhavsar actually participates only if someone gets injured. Ironically the 30-year-old Wilson is making a comeback after a career-threatening injury in February, when he tore a tendon in his left bicep. He even rolled his ankle yesterday and missed the final events before the final two names for the US gymnastic team were announced.

News of his inclusion seemed to have surprised Wilson, who said he was happy at making the cut — but sad to see his Ohio State mate missing out.

He told The New York Times, in a voice which was reportedly wavering, that he had ‘mixed emotions’ after finding Raj’s name missing from the final list. ‘‘Basically, the way I see it, I took his spot. That’s kind of difficult to deal with.’’

The reaction in the Bhavsar family home in Houston was of deep disappointment. ‘‘It certainly is disappointing and Raj too sounded depressed when he called us to give the news,’’ Raj’s mother Surekha told The Indian Express.

Wilson had failed to participate in the US Olympics trials last month but was invited to the national camp considering his status as a two-time Olympian and five-times national champion.

Before the camp and the final screening Raj’s mother had told this paper that she wouldn’t want Raj to get an Olympic berth because of someone’s injury. ‘‘Wilson should get a chance to prove his worth and only if he competes it will be a fair trial,’’ she had said.

For now Raj, his mother said, wouldn’t take any calls for at least a couple of days as Olympic dream hasn’t quite been achieved. Maybe after that he can take a leaf from Wilson’s book and his amazing comeback.

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Congratulations to Blaine and the men's team on winning the silver medal!!

No one deserves this medal more than Blaine. He contributed two solid routines to the team performance. But more than that, he really serves as sort of a player-coach on this team. Tremendous leadership. Again, congrats!!
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Agreed. It's good to see all his dedication to the USA program *finally* come to fruition in the form of an Olympic medal. Congrats Blaine!

Unfortunately Raj Bhavsar, another OSU gymnast, was an alternate and we didn't get to see him compete. Still a heck of an accomplishment to make it as an alternate, though.
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