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Olympics: 'Grandma luge' crashes out

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Grandma Luge

TORINO, Italy (CNN) -- In news sure to devastate her legions of fans, Anne Abernathy, the woman known as "Grandma Luge" has pulled out of the Winter Olympics in Torino after succumbing to a wrist injury, organizers said.

Abernathy, at 52 the oldest female competitor at the Games, broke her wrist in a crash in training on Sunday.

Officials were informed late on Sunday that she would not compete in the two-day luge competition starting Monday.

The Virgin Islands slider also broke the right runner of her sled in the crash between turns 16 and 17 on the Cesana track. She was taken to hospital after the incident.

Melita Glanville, a trainer who has worked with Abernathy for years, said after the crash that Abernathy would have to have been fully fit to compete.

"Even if you have a little doubt, if someone is not on top of their game and they are going to fly down the track at 90 mph, you have to be pretty sure they are OK," Glanville said.

The German sliders are considered runaway favorites for the podium in the competition, which will be decided on Tuesday.

Germans swept all three medals at Salt Lake City.

While never a serious contender for a medal, Abernathy is immensely popular with her fellow competitors.

She has also built up a cult following of luge fans around the world, having beaten cancer and bounced back from a string of injuries including 12 operations on her knee.

She was appearing at her sixth Olympics in Torino after a career that began in Calgary in 1988 and carried the flag for her country in Friday's opening ceremony.

She became the oldest female Winter Olympian when she competed aged 48 in Utah four years ago. The previous title-holder was Canada's Edwina Chamier, an Alpine skier who took to the slopes of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.

But Abernathy was not the oldest competitor at the Games -- that distinction goes to 54-year-old U.S. curler Scott Baird.

She was easy to spot on the training runs, sporting a green racing suit topped with a red helmet which she said was in honor of women over 50.

"I kind of look like a Christmas tree," she said after practice on Friday. "It's a big deal for a lot of women that someone over 50 is going out there and doing it."

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