Russia's double Olympic champion on uneven bars is "not ready" for European Championships, says coach but wants to upgrade her routine for worlds

Aliya Mustafina is a fighter.

Stagnation is not in the vocabulary for Russia's double Olympic champion who won't be competing at next month's European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Poland.

The 24-year-old will not be named on the Russian team for the championships in Szczecin, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Instead, Mustafina wants to upgrade her routine and target this year's Worlds.

"Aliya is not yet ready to compete at the European Championships. She is preparing for the World Championships."

—Valentina Rodionenko, Russian national team senior coach

Mustafina returned to international competition after pregnancy at last year's World Championships where she won team silver.

Repeat of 2018

National coach Valentina Rodionenko pointed out it was a similar timetable that Mustafina undertook last year.

"She also missed the European Championships last year," Rodionenko noted. "But she could show herself on the main stage of the year in Qatar."

The hope is that there will be a repeat this year, with the Worlds taking place in Stuttgart, Germany, this October.

Before that, Mustafina will compete this weekend in the same city on the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup tour, facing Simone Biles in the latter's season debut.

Higher difficulty

Mustafina won all-around and floor bronze at the Russian national championships earlier this month, but Rodionenko told RIA Novosti that the triple world champion needs to look at upping the difficulty of her routines.

"She did a great job. She was in her element, and has the character. But she needs to add more complex moves.

"She's not getting higher scores and her difficulty level is not as high as we want it to be.

"We hope she will add more difficulty at the Worlds, she has the capacity."

At least her preparation for the new season seemed to have gone smoothly and without injuries.

"There were no injuries, everything went fine. The proof of that were the two days of the Russian championships. They were without falls, this makes me really happy," she said to TASS.

Motherhood

Mustafina is just 20 months on from giving birth to daughter Alisa.

The Russian actually returned to training only three months after Alisa was born.

And the seven-time Olympic medallist says her decision to continue at the top level of gymnastics was made with her child in mind.

Speaking to Moscow newspaper MK, Mustafina said: "I’m telling myself that I’m doing this for my daughter, too – so that she would have everything."

"My little gymnast. One day she will start watching me competing and will understand everything. Maybe at that moment it will get harder to compete because I will feel that the most important eyes are watching me and I can absolutely not let her down."

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