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    Orland Park gymnast to represent Team USA in 2024 Olympic Games after overcoming injury

    By Austin KleberRay Cortopassi,


    ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Looking ahead to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, an athlete from south suburban Orland Park will be the only person representing Team USA in her sport.

    Less than six months ago, Evita Griskenas could not even walk, and now she is hoping to bring home a medal at this year’s Olympic games.

    Chicagoland sailor to represent U.S. in 2024 Olympic Games in Paris

    Evita offered a creative twist on the ceremonial first pitch before the Crosstown Classic earlier this month. And it is not the first time Sigitas Griskenas has watched his daughter on the big stage.


    “You’re standing in the field and not only standing in the field, your kid is throwing the ball. I mean, the girl is throwing the ball,” Evita’s father said.

    The 23-year-old Orland Park resident just qualified for her second Olympic games

    “When I was four years old, I saw rhythmic gymnastics on the TV and I was like, mom, I really want to do rhythmic,” Griskenas said.

    It is a feat that almost didn’t happen. Last June, Evita suffered a devastating injury.

    “I did my first leap about like 10 seconds into the routine and I just knew that it was broke and like I was like, ‘I can’t step on it,'” Griskenas said.

    Griskenas was right. The gymnast ended up fracturing her foot.

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    “I fell into the arms of the physical therapist, as dramatic as that sounds, and I couldn’t get up,” Griskenas said.

    After months of rehab and one missed opportunity to qualify, Griskenas secured a silver medal at the Pan American Games to seal her spot in Paris. But her injury flared up again and doctors prescribed three months of no walking.

    “I wasn’t in the gym for a few months and that’s hard because that was my entire life,”: Griskenas said.

    Come March, Griskenas had to learn how to walk again, but she worked hard on her road to recovery and by April, she was cleared to jump.

    Evita got back to full-scale workouts by early May, less than three months before the Olympics.

    “At that point in the season, most people already had new routines, but I was still coming up with my new routines because you could plan in the theoretical but once you start actually moving, the timing is different, the catch is different,” Griskenas said.

    Olympic rings mounted on the Eiffel Tower

    Now Griskenas is gearing up for the Paris games.

    In the Tokyo Olympics, she placed 12th. But unlike that year,’s games, which took place in the middle of the pandemic, this time, she’ll perform in front of a full crowd, and her family.

    “My parents were like, “No, do what you are called to do and do it with passion,’” Griskenas said.

    It is a passion that she hopes will help her bring home some hardware.

    Griskenas also just graduated from Columbia University in New York, where she majored in psychology. She said she wants to pursue a PhD and is also eyeing a spot in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WGN-TV.

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