In Rio, Ait Said’s left leg snapped on his vault landing during qualifying, the sharp crack echoing throughout the arena. As he rolled over, clutching his leg just below the knee, his foot and the lower half of his shin dangled in the opposite direction of the rest of his leg.
It was not the first time his Olympic dreams had been disrupted by injury. He missed the London Games after suffering three fractures in his right tibia at the European championships. But this was a particularly gruesome injury, one that has ended the career of other athletes.
Even as he lay in a Brazilian hospital, his leg immobilized, Ait Said vowed that he would return for Tokyo. …