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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 02:25 GMT

Cooper cursing injury jinx

Olympic freestyle skiing gold medal favourite Jacqui Cooper has been forced to pull out of the aerial competition through injury.

The Australian injured her knee in training on Monday after attempting a twisting triple somersault, which resulted in her damaging her left leg.

It is the latest in a long line of injuries that she has endured over the years.

Cooper went into the 1998 Olympics as the favourite but had to pull out following a crash in qualification in which she suffered concussion and an injury to her right leg.

"My knee is broken, my heart is broken but my spirit is not"
Jacqui Cooper

In 2001 she suffered a fractured vertebrae and took a herbalist's advice - drinking cockroach extract to help recover.

Team doctor Peter Braun said of her latest blow: "She tore cruciate ligaments which require reconstructive surgery.

"The damage is quite extensive and severe.

"She felt it at impact. As soon as she hit the surface she heard a pop," he added.

Cooper described it as "a little explosion" inside her knee.

She said: "So far the Olympics haven't worked out too well for me.

"Nagano was bad but this is a whole lot worse. This is a nightmare for sure.

"My knee is broken, my heart is broken but my spirit is not. Turin is four long years away but I've already started thinking about it."

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