• Last modified 305 days ago (July 26, 2023)


Award-winning gymnast, diver healing

Staff writer

Her ambition to become an elite gymnast has been on hold since Olivia Carlson suffered a neck injury in a fall July 13 during practice at Skywalkers in Emporia.

Olivia will be a junior at Centre. She has reached Level 10 in gymnastics, with the hope of reaching Elite status, which will allow her to compete in bigger venues and even internationally.

She also placed fifth in the state in diving competition in May.

Olivia was trying a new maneuver when she became unsure of how she would land and lost control. She landed face down on a trampoline, but her body kept rolling. She ended up on her back.

“I heard something pop, and I started to cry,” she said. “I cried a lot.”

She was taken by ambulance to Newman Regional Health Center in Emporia. After a CT scan, she was diagnosed with a dislocated C5 and a fractured C6 vertebrae in her neck.

She underwent surgery to put the dislocated vertebrae back in place. A metal plate and screws were inserted to keep the area stable.

She is dealing with constant soreness in her neck, which pain medication cannot totally suppress, but she won’t need physical therapy.

“I can only stand for so long before it starts to hurt,” she said.

She will wear a neck brace for six weeks.

Olivia has been active in Centre sports. Her doctor told her she can participate in volleyball, basketball, track, and diving after four months. She can’t resume gymnastics for a year.

“To become an Elite gymnast was my goal for this year,” she said. “I’m hoping to become a judge for gymnastics so I can continue to be involved.”

She has had a lot of phone calls, texts, and visitors and spends a lot of time on the couch or sitting outside.

She hopes to be in good health for basketball season and looks forward to diving again.

When the year is up, she will go back to gymnastics.

“I think I will,” she said.

Eric and Bethany Carlson of Lincolnville are her parents.

“While we are sad about what happened to Olivia, we are grateful that it wasn’t worse and that she is here with us and walking,” Bethany said. “Visitors are always welcome. They help her spend the time.”

Last modified July 26, 2023