Rachel Tidd

Three-time all-American gymnast Rachel Tidd is no longer in constant pain, but after spending much of the last month at home in California pondering her situation and discussing it with her parents, Tidd informed Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden that she has decided to retire from the sport.

Tidd, who developed back pain originally thought to be spasms during the 2004-05 holiday break, will continue schooling at the University of Utah, where she is a 3.8 GPA student, and will accept a medical scholarship to complete her education.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon, and with the medical scholarship she cannot return to an athletic scholarship, which is why it has taken this long to declare what seemed inevitable last fall, said Marsden.

Tidd has not trained since last April's NCAA championships, where she tied for third on uneven bars and put up all-around scores of 39.40 and 39.50 to help Utah finish third. Even with a back that rarely allowed her to train last season, she finished 12th in the NCAA all-around and had the best uneven bars score in the 12-team field on the first day of the 2005 nationals.

Despite many tests and procedures, doctors have been unable to determine what is causing Tidd's pain, which hampered her sophomore season last year and continued through last fall. Rehabilitation therapy helped briefly last fall, said Marsden, so she held out hope of competing again.

Marsden has had the medical scholarship paperwork ready since last fall, fearing her back wouldn't improve, but he wanted her to be comfortable with the decision to retire before setting the process in motion.

It was an emotionally difficult thing for her to do as she still longs to compete but knows it's better for her "intellectually to move on," Marsden said. "She's been miserable," he said.

Tidd missed nationals during her freshman season with mononucleosis.

Marsden said it is "painful for her being in the gym, and I don't mean physically." Tidd is not expected to help out in the gym or during meets. She has difficulty even being around former teammates, he said.

Tidd, of Fallbrook, Calif., had outstanding credentials prior to starting at the U., having placed fourth in the 2001 USA Championships and taken eighth on balance beam at the 2001 World Championships. She was 10th all-around at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Marsden could recall only about four or five Utah gymnasts in 30-plus years of the program to have to take a medical retirement. The last one was Annie Medcalf, who developed a benign tumor on her spine that required fusing of vertebrae. She recently completed her education with a business degree.

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