Bridget Sloan practices on the balance beam during the 2012 USA Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials at HP Pavilion. (Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE)

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SAN JOSE, California, June 29 (Reuters) – Former world all-around champion Bridget Sloan had her Olympic hopes dashed on Friday when she pulled out of the U.S. gymnastics trials after spraining her left elbow during practice.

“It’s hard to accept but, at the same time, I know that it was meant for me to be done,” the 20-year-old told reporters. “Everything happens for a reason. Again it’s hard but…,” she then trailed off as the tears began to flow.

The 2009 world all-around champion suffered the injury while warming up on the uneven bars shortly before the scheduled start of the first day of the women’s competition at the HP Pavilion.

Sloan clutched her elbow in pain after a turn on the bars and briefly received medical attention. She then tried to warm up for the balance beam before she was escorted out of the indoor arena by her coach Marvin Sharp.

Soon after, USA Gymnastics officials said Sloan had pulled out of the competition.

“Bridget has an elbow sprain and it has been determined that it is in Bridget’s best interest to withdraw from the competition,” Dr Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics medical coordinator, said in a statement.

Sloan, a member of the silver medal winning U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Games, was teary-eyed when she later explained that she had been working on one of her favorite skills, the ‘Church’, when she suffered the injury.

“As soon as my toes came off, I knew I was a little far and I wasn’t going to make it so I prepared myself for the landing,” she said.

“I actually landed just as I was taught too, flat, but as soon as I landed my elbow hit and it kind of ricocheted off the mat. As soon as that happened, I knew something wasn’t right.”

Sloan tried to give herself a massage by grabbing the elbow and pushing on it before then returning to the uneven bars.

“I did a second half and when I came off the bar I knew that this wasn’t going to work,” she said. “My elbow was starting to get really bad, the pain, the throbbing.

“I started warming for beam on the floor and I noticed every time my arm would move that I could feel something going into my hand.”

Sloan’s coach Sharp said: “This is not the way we planned to finish up but she has had a wonderful career and I am very proud of her.”