Metal Rods Support DU Gymnast’s Comeback

By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – Her career almost ended because of painful leg fractures. But this year, a talented gymnast scored a first for the University of Denver thanks to her determination and the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon at UCHealth.

Nina McGee flies through the air like it’s easy. For 20 years, she has been tumbling and twisting, leaping and loving it. A nervous babysitter got her started.

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

“She finally told my mom, ‘You need to put her in gymnastics, she’s tearing up my furniture, I’m scared she’s going to fall,’” McGee told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

McGee jumped right in. This year, as a University of Denver senior, she posted three perfect 10s on her floor routine. At the national championships, she scored a 9.95 and came away with DU’s first NCAA gymnastics title.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

“We are Pioneers. I’m honored to embody that for the school,” said McGee.

McGee’s success is impressive, especially when you hear about her struggle.

“That is space. And that black line is a lack of bone,” explained Dr. Michelle Wolcott, Orthopedic Surgeon with UCHealth.

Dr. Michelle Wolcott, Orthopedic Surgeon with UCHealth is interviewed by CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

Dr. Michelle Wolcott, Orthopedic Surgeon with UCHealth is interviewed by CBS4’s Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

In 2011, McGee came to DU with painful stress fractures. Wolcott, her gymnastics team physician, suggested implanting metal rods to support McGee’s cracked bones. McGee was given a choice.

“You can be done with gymnastics or try the surgery and give it another shot,” McGee was told.

CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

“I don’t think she would have healed without it,” explained Wolcott.

In a little over a year, McGee was back competing. She was quickly impressive all around and on fire on the floor.

“I did it just because I love it so much,” McGee said.

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

Nina McGee (credit: CBS)

McGee says her comeback made her better appreciate gymnastics and her God-given talent. She retires with no regrets and is ready for her next routine.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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