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Junior National champion Bailie Key out of U.S. Gymnastics Championships

An elbow injury is keeping 2013 Junior U.S. champion Bailie Key out of commission for this year's U.S. Championships.

"With the 100% undeviating advice and support of those we trust and respect the most, together with Bailie, we decided it best that she forego this year’s Championships," reads a statement posted by Texas Dreams Gymnastics on its website, where Key trains under Kim Zmeskal and Chris Burdette. "Letting her safety along with 'big picture' goals guide us, it became an obvious decision, although not an easy one."

After skipping last weekend's Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago to allow herself time to recover from the minor elbow injury, Key will now turn toward 2015, the all-important year before the Olympic Games, and her first as a senior.

The blonde Texan, who first turned heads as one of the youngest competitors at the 2011 U.S. Championships, has steadily built a reputation as one of the U.S.'s top contenders for the 2016 Olympic team. After finishing fourth at the 2012 Junior U.S. Championships, Key arrived at the same competition in 2013 ready to win, and did. She made a big impression at the Pacific Rim Championships earlier this year as well, winning the junior all-around title and two of the four events in event finals.

On a World level, her artistic new floor routine and oh-so-clean lines sets her apart and marks her as a potential world frontrunner from the Class of '99, many of whom will be competing at next week's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (CHN).

Though it's no doubt a disappointment to miss out on the national championships, Key shouldn't despair: Jordyn Wieber, who injured her ankles on the first day of competition at the 2010 Junior U.S. Championships, dejectedly scratched from the meet. She came back in 2011 to win the senior U.S. title as well as the World all around title, positioning herself as a lock for the 2012 Olympic team.

If she and her coaches had insisted on competing injured, you never know how the story might have turned out.