Iowa's Clair Kaji performs on the beam during the Iowa/Ohio State gymnastics meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The GymHawks defeated the Buckeyes, 195.725 to 195.300, to win their home opener. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Kaji injured, future of season unknown

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The GymHawks will have spots to fill in at least three events after an injury benches one of the top athletes.

Sophomore gymnast Clair Kaji was injured on Jan. 19 in Iowa’s meet against Ohio State. She sustained a “lower leg extremity” injury in her floor routine warm-up, according to head coach Larissa Libby.

She finished her beam routine in the third event of the night with a score of 9.850. She was then scratched from the floor routine.

“It’s obviously a devastating blow to our team for multiple reasons,” Libby said. “She is one of our best athletes, she’s the one athlete that’s gone to the national championship, so obviously that hurts us.”

Monday at practice, Kaji returned to the gym in a walking boot and on a scooter, a testament to her attitude surrounding her injury.

“[Most] importantly, she’s a great kid,” Libby said. “We love having her on the road, she’s light-hearted, she’s always excited about doing gymnastics, she’s just the bond between everybody – so that’s more difficult than even losing the gymnastics.”

The sophomore was named to the Big Ten watch list at the beginning of the season, and she is a top athlete on the uneven bars, beam, and floor routine.

In 2017, Kaji competed in every meet. Against Northern Illinois, she recorded a season high 9.875 on the uneven bars. She also posted a season high on the floor at Iowa State, with a 9.925.

Anna Kayser

 

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