Mustafina is back: "I will do everything to win maximum medals in Tokyo"
Double Olympic champion gymnast Aliya Mustafina is back. The 24-year-old made Russia's team for the World Gymnastics Championships in Doha just 16 months after giving birth to daughter Alisa.
“My life has changed in that my free time is now spent with my daughter,” Mustafina said Wednesday after completing podium training. “My daughter is home with my mother, so I have nothing to worry about.”
She did have to worry about a lot of injuries in her career but even these troubles seem to be in the past.
"There was nothing extra difficult. There was a huge wish to get back to the sport, so I didn’t pay attention to anything difficult."
A series of injuries
Mustafina made an impressive return to competition in April at the Russian Championships, finishing fourth. She had hoped to compete at the World Cup competition in Osijek, Croatia, the following month but withdrew due to a meniscus injury. She has since struggled with that knee injury and was held out of August’s European Championships in Glasgow as well.
In training in Doha, her right knee was heavily bandaged.
“It’s alright,” she said. “I tape it sometimes just for the support but it doesn't actually hurt."
But the Russian star was able to successfully complete a floor routine that included two double flipping tumbling passes. She did, however, sit out the vault with no plans to compete in the all-around competition, which she won in 2010.
“Our main goal is the team competition. I personally don’t set any goals but I want to help the team make it to the top three," she said.
After becoming the last last non-American woman to clinch individual all-around gold at the world championships back in 2010, Mustafina had to endure a series of injuries. She had surgeries on both knees and her left ankle.
Back pain forced her to sit out the worlds in 2015 but she bounced back at Rio 2016 winning gold, silver and bronze.
On the hunt again
While the U.S. women are the heavy favourites to win the team title, Russia is expected to battle for silver or bronze with China.
Mustafina looked strongest on Wednesday on the uneven bars, her specialty event. She is still finding her form to some degree, leaving out signature elements that she will need if she hopes to challenge for her first gold medal on the event at the World championships.
Mustafina owns seven Olympic medals, including two silvers with Team Russia, and back-to-back gold medals on the uneven bars.
“I will do everything to win maximum medals at Tokyo," she said.