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July 13, 2006

      Hi Everyone! January 2006 was a big turning point for me, I traveled to Britain in order to train for the Commonwealth Games In Melbourne, Australia. There was a trial for this and I achieved first place which qualified me to be on the England team. After some long and grueling workouts the team was ready to set off to Melbourne. The CWG's included all kinds of sports, so we got to travel on the plane with all the other Team England athletes. We had so much fun and I got to meet many people from all over the UK and from around the Commonwealth.

      Melbourne had planned for these games for almost ten years, and the city looked amazing! A whole village had been built just to house the athletes and coaches. Security was very tight and you had to have credentials to get in or out. I felt like I was at college, (without the studying lol!) as it was so much fun inside. They had a movie theater, games, big screen TV, shops, and all kinds of entertainment. While I was at Commonwealths it was pointed out to me by the England coaches that FIG had named the 'piked toe shoot Tkatchev' after me. I didn't expect this, and was very pleased at this turn of events. I was so happy that it was almost felt like winning another medal!

      England competed and not only did we win a silver medal in the team event, but I also won an individual silver medal on the uneven bars. At one point our team was fighting a losing battle because we all fell off of beam, Unfortunately, this had put us in 4th place after three of four rotations. On Vault, our third event, Imogen got a really good score and our position was slightly improved going into the last rotation, Bars! It was now down to me to do a great bar routine to get us into medal contention and the pressure was intense to say the least. I wanted it so bad that I gave it my all, and Iím very happy to say that I had one of the highest bar scores of the day. This score bumped us from 4th into second place. Yay! Silver medal.

      A great side benefit of competing in Melbourne is that our family has a lot of relatives that live there. We got to visit with them, and some of our cousinís took us to an animal sanctuary where we hand fed kangaroos. It was really amazing as the compound was so big that you didnít notice there was a chain link fence surrounding it. This gave the illusion that the kangaroos were roaming free. They had other animals also, such as dingoes, cockatoos, various reptiles and birds of prey. The extent of the wildlife in Australia is simply mind boggling. Many strange species only exist on the Australian continent and are not found anywhere else on the planet. For example: the Platypus. Wow! What a strange bird.... or mammal...or Duck?!! Actually it is a mammal that lays eggs, has a bill and webbed feet and lives in and around the water. They didnít have any live ones at the sanctuary but there was a stuffed one on display. It was much smaller that I expected, but strange nonetheless.

      One day my teammates and I went to an aquarium along the Banks of the Yarra River (near the central business district) and my mom and uncle went to see the penguins coming on shore at night fall on Phillip Island. Unfortunately, I was with the team at the time and missed out on that little excursion. Overall though, I will carry these experiences with me for the rest of my life. A beautiful country full of friendly people and I got to go there twice in 4 months. ahhh! Good times! Oh, I want to say hi to Jade, Karen, Kayla, Maddy, Paula and Michelle some of my cousins from down under. Thanks for signing my guestbook.

      After returning to England, I had to compete in British Team Championships. I competed for Heathrow and we won the team trophy. I only did three events and placed 1st on two of them. All of our team performed incredibly well and it was the first time Heathrow had won this event in eight years I think.

      Next up I had to prepare for European Championships in Volos, Greece. I was having a small problem with my knee which definitely held me back a little, but I was determined to keep going. I continued to train as hard as possible and I nursed my knee as much as I could. My training was going very well and after an examination the Orthopedic doctor for the British team gave approval for me to compete in Greece. I traveled to Greece in April knowing that I had a handicap to overcome with my knee problem, because even though the Doctor had given me clearance I knew I wasn't really 100%.

      During preliminaries for the team competition the coaches decided to have me do FX as they needed my scores. I knew It was taking a risk, but I wanted to post some good scores for the team and had no idea my knee was that bad. I started on balance beam and had a very good result, but when I went to floor thatís when disaster struck. I made the whole routine and landed awkwardly on my sore knee. I was then out of the competition and couldnít even do my uneven bar routine! After returning from Greece, I found out that I had once again torn my ACL, only this time it was my left knee.

      Well here I go again..... Surgery and rehabilitation! Dr. Doug Jackson did the surgery on May 24th and it went extremely well. Unlike my first ACL injury there was no meniscus damage, which means (long term) less chance of arthritis in that knee. I started limited training and conditioning a couple of weeks ago and have even done some bar stuff as well. My plan now is to now revise all my routines for the new code. I have been meaning to do this for a while, but with World's, CWG's etc there simply wasn't time to add or change anything. I also need to concentrate on getting strong enough to compete in the 2007 World championships. After all of this, I will then with a bit of luck go onto my ultimate goal, The OLYMPICS 2008. After the Olympics, I will hopefully go to UCLA and compete in the NCAA. This for me will be the icing on the cake! Competing in a college environment as a team seems like a lot of fun and I love team competition. Later in the year I will probably go on a recruitment trip to the UCLA campus to see exactly where I would be staying and how the whole program works.

      In a couple of months I'll probably be going to train in the UK and also the south of France for a few weeks. I'll be staying (and Training) with my old coaches Eric and Monique Hagard when I'm in France. After being away for over three months (Trials, Commonwealth's, British Teams, European's) I returned to the California on May 3rd, my 17th B'day! Monique flew in from France the same day and we went to Disneyland the next morning. Even though I was in a wheelchair (and sometimes on crutches) we had a great time. The following week Monique created a new floor routine for me and it is really beautiful. The music is just as pretty as my previous music and I think most people are going to love it.

      The day after I got the new floor routine is when I found out that my ACL was torn. Up to that point I was hopeful that it was just meniscus or something less serious. Even the Doctors in the UK thought it was not ACL, so I went from being on an incredible high (Finally getting a new floor routine) to being in a major depression. I was totally devastated and wanted to quit gym - including my shot at UCLA. However after putting everything into perspective I realized that things could be much worse. I really want to continue my Elite career and feel that if I stay healthy then the best is yet to come.

-Shavahn

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