2011 Moscow World Cup Interview

By Olga Yemolina for Moscow News

The Women’s Artistic Gymnastics World All-Around Champion, Russian Aliya Mustafina, flew to Munich yesterday for examinations after her knee surgery. The day before, at the Moscow stage of the World Cup series, your correspondent from Moscow News sat down for a chat with the gymnast.

— It is odd to be a spectator at a gymnastics meet?

Of course it is. I really want to be out there competing. But no athlete is safe from injuries and you have to find the strength in yourself to not get absorbed by one. After what happened to me, I told myself that I could not get depressed, that I had to heal my knee and continue training.

— Did you get that confidence in yourself from your father, the Greco-Roman medallist in the 1976 Olympics?

I don’t know where I got it, but my father and everyone at home was very upset when they heard about my injury. Papa understands like no-one else that now I need time to recover. But he didn’t say anything about it, because everything was understood without any words.

— Did you have your operation at the same clinic in Munich where other Russian athletes have been?

I only know the name of the doctor who did my operation – Dr. Stroebel. There are no easy operations, but I felt absolutely normal the next day.

— Do you feel any pain now?

No, none. The fact that I am limping some is just because my leg has not been thoroughly rehabilitated.

— They say that you are training a little bit?

Yes, I am conditioning my arms and doing easy exercises on the bar. I have support on my knee and do my exercises in it.

— The coaches on the national team say that you will most likely miss world championships because the main goal is the Olympic Games and things cannot be forced or rushed.

Of course, there is no way I can compete in the all-around at worlds. But I might be able to try bars and beam. First, I need that psychologically, so I don’t lose my confidence. Second, if I can, I’ll be ready. Why not?

— What is the goal of this trip to Munich?

I need to undergo tests to see how the recovery is going after the operation. The German doctors will write a rehabilitation plan and say what exercises I need to do. They told me not to try anything at home on my own before that.

— What are your teammates on the national team saying?

Everyone is supporting me, telling me the team needs me. But I want to get back to the podium as soon as I can myself. I think that is what ill happen.

The Girl with Fearless Eyes

The girl with fearless eyes

Alia Mustafina becomes world champion, despite the circumstances

(Major Credit goes to Ears Aged Eleven at IntlGymnast for the Translation)

(Original Article Here)

In her eyes was reflected Damascus steel. She really is afraid of nothing. And for her there are, and can be, no limits or prohibitions. At least on the podium. She does not know anything else yet. And does not want to know … “The boys in my life will appear when they do” – flatly declared Alia Mustafina after the World Championship victories. – For now – only gymnastics.

During the Rotterdam World Championships she spoke with her father on Skype. Fargat Mustafin, a double world champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, said to his eldest daughter:

– Alka, tear them up!

– Do not worry, Dad. I can not lose – calmly replied Alia.

She decided not to think about the gold medal for vault, which she was denied. What’s done is done:

“I understand – I need to become stronger so that it is impossible to mark me down.”

“People close to each other do not lie”

Six-year old Alia went to practice on the subway on her own by eight in the morning. From “Dobryninskaya” to “Belarus”, a change of line – and then to “Airport”, and the gym CSKA.
And she used to take four-year-old Nailya with her. She tells me about it as something self-evident:

– I have a good visual memory. If I am just shown the way, I will not get lost.

“Alia was an unusual child – notices her father .- I understood it when she cut her finger and held it up through the night. Slept and kept her finger like that! The extent to which she must be able to control her body, to control it even in dreams! “.

“And yet” – after a moment’s thought, Fargat adds- “She is secretive, and does not give out strengths or weaknesses. I think that in this lies her strength. In this sense, Alka is a vulnerable fellow. Most of all she is touched when unjustly offended. It does not matter who or what. She will pick it up. But never talks about it. There is a saying – the “frame” holds!

I once asked: “What is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’?”. “People close to each other do not lie,” – said his daughter, almost without thinking. With her you can be strict, but must do everything on truth. To tell lies is to lose your authority. ”

“Ironically – continues Fargat – Alya is rarely at school, but she has many friends there. And just try to tell her that something is not right about them! She is also friends with her class teacher. Just after returning from Rotterdam, she immediately ran to the school. But there isn’t really time to study. I have serious concerns. I try anything to help her with the school curriculum. We recently discussed the “Gadfly.” “And what is interesting, dad? – She said to me. – He has not achieved what he wanted. I’ve forgotten about him. ” I was taken aback: “You read it in full?” – “Scanned through”. And it all became clear. ”

For her, the closest person is her sister. They have everything in common, although there is a also a spirit of rivalry! ”

Toward evening, when we sat up late with Fargat in a cafe near the gym CSKA, Nailya and Alya went to their father to go home together.

– Nailya, you probably also want to become a champion of the world? – I ask jokingly, as if to a child

Nailya’s tone is different. And she seriously wrinkled her freckled nose:

– I want to win the Olympics.

– The Youth Games?

– The real one!

It is the same character. “Mustafina-esque”.

Then I was told that Nailya was considered no less talented than Aliya. Several years ago she was doing a beam element that is very complicated, a twisting flip But then there was an accident: a fall from the bars, a fracture of the femur. The girl still has not departed from the fear; it has not yet been overcome.

– Fargat why are both your daughters gymnasts? You are a fighter, your wife teaches at the School of Physics.

– Yes, it’s all because of Galya Stepanenko, Galina Reynholdovna, the head teacher of gymnastic school CSKA. We, along with her husband competed for the USSR for many years, we’re family friends. “Alka can be a gymnast; a solid girl. – Bring her to me! “. I do not know, somehow she just saw the gymnast in Aliya. And I’ve only recently begun to understand gymnastics. I realized: if a wrestler wins the world championship in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, and then in sambo and judo, that is like winning the world championship in the gymnastics all-around. Each of them is a separate world, a separate type of sport! I know about sports psychology and have long noticed when I went to her competitions: she has a special aura. Charisma! Alka came out not just to perform. She came out to win.

… Not winning vault at the world championships in Rotterdam is not the first drama for Alia.
Several years ago, she experienced a severe break with her coach, Deena Kamalova. She refused to work with Alia and soon left for the United States.

In protest, Mustafina was training in silence at the corner of the floor for an hour. There is some resentment in the tone of Alia’s father but Galina Stepanenko, head teacher of army gymnastics school, offers an explanation of what happened between Dina Rashidovna and Alia …

“Get ready for a heart attack! And it will be yours!”

I quickly caught in the stories of Fargat Mustafina a recurring theme. Galina Stepanenko, first saw the gymnast in Aliya and later had a part in her fate every time Aliya had difficulties. It was the army school head teacher who took her from her first children’s coach, who paid little attention to the little girl and was not ready to fully dedicate himself to one Mustafina and fifteen years of work on her results.

When Dina Kamalova left for the United States and Alia was ready to quit gymnastics, Galina Stepanenko, intervened again.

“Morally, my wife and I were prepared that Aliya might have been finished. It’s a very brutal sport! – Argues Mustafin. – Ten hours a day working on the equipment, and if something does not work, and the coach at the end of the tenth hour requires a repeat … What nerves you need! But Stepanenko stood firm: “Fargat, your daughter will become a champion!”

Then Galina Stepanenko asked Alexander Aleksandrov, an outstanding coach, not so long returned to Russia from the U.S., to pay attention to Alia Mustafina.

“And I still must admit that I did not understand Dina Kamalova- Adds Fargat. – She refused to continue with Aley’s training, and a week later went to America. I don’t need to discuss how it affected my daughter. But I think Dina felt like going, and that was the main motive. Well, you want to leave – so tell students to find another coach and be on your way. What does the child feel when you leave unexpectedly? That she was abandoned! To the child it’s an accident. ”

But relations with Alexandrov also did not develop smoothly.
“The Girl is talented, – said Alexander to Alina’s father. – But how stubborn “-” What do you want? – Laughed Fargat Mustafin. – Get ready for a heart attack. And it will be yours! ”
“In fact, she was drawn to him immediately – Fargat explained to me. – Children are drawn to authority figures. And, I’m sorry, but the coach of Bilozerchev is a “figure”!

… One gray November day, I climbed to the third floor of a building under repair, the army drill hall, and went into a small room. Galina Stepanenko greeted me cordially, pulled away from the computer, took off her glasses and poured coffee. But she flatly refused the epithet of “guardian angel”:

“On Aliya I can tell you anything you want. No I support her, of course, but am not a guardian angel. For that matter, I did not see anything special in the small Alia. I led her to gymnastics because that is what I loved. Fargat resisted for a long time: “You wait, Alya is already doing flips on the bed. I’ll have to bring her to you soon! “. But it did not happen.

And then came another: “Let Nelka grow up, bring both!”. And so it happened. Yes, I took care of Alia as the daughter of my friends. But when I realized that she was talented, I felt a double responsibility for the girl. There are many talented gymnasts. But what distinguishes the good from the great gymnast? A unique nervous system! It was so for Bilozerchev: after his accident he went on stage in Rotterdam with such amplitude and with a murderous coolness that made his rivals tremble. And Aliya reminds me of Bilozerchev. The ability to keep it together.

And during training she is not working at full strength. I remember Tamara Lazakovich, Olympic champion, alas, too early deceased. She did not like to exhaust herself in the hall. A week before a big tournament, she often suddenly “fell ill”. All work she takes “as a hobby”. Whether she was in fact, sick or well – you would not know. Incidentally, it was not banal laziness and self-preservation. Not everyone has it … on the day of reckoning, Lazakovich comes out and – oh!

She is the best!

When Alexander was observing Alia, I repeated: “Do not judge her on her training, she acts quite differently!”.

– Galina Reynholdovna what happened, in your opinion, between Ali and Dina Kamalova? Let’s put an end to this story.

– I would not want to, in connection with Aley, speak badly of Dina. Dina is a very good coach, technically. With Aley she worked fanatically, gave her a lot. It is no coincidence that Kamalova was immediately noticed and appreciated by Valeri Liukin and invited to the States.

But Dina did not have enough experience with teens, she found it difficult with them. That’s the problem! And it not only happened with Aley, but with other girls too. Dina demanded unquestioning obedience. Children can take it, but teenagers – no. And then came the hard times for Dina. The group began to disintegrate, one girl was lured into a circus, the other left with her parents. And at the same time, there were complexities in her personal life…

But that is done – all for the better. To get Alexander Sergeyevich Alexandrov for Alki – it was very good fortune!

“I love it when my nerves are frayed”

When I came to Alia and Alexandrov at “round lake”, Alexander was trying to politely leave us with Alia in the room alone. “It will probably be more convenient. And you can talk with me later”- the coach noted, politically correct. And taking his phone from the desk, decisively moved toward the door. But on the threshold he was forced to turn back …

Not yet accustomed to journalists Alya clearly needed his help. And Alexandrov realized that he could not leave her in this ‘stalemate’.

My tape recorder and camera flash photography have caused the world champion who is as yet unaccustomed to bearing the burden of fame – indeed, the girls are still quite small- to be very uncomfortable.

“But what do you mean small! – Alexander exclaimed with mock severity – We must learn to give interviews! Here, you and her: practise!” And he stood at the back of her chair, completely ready to “step in” if required.

– Alya, so that means you were assured of victory in Rotterdam? Your father told me about your conversation on Skype …

“I did not say that I’m better than anyone and will always win!” – Flashes Alya. – The conversation was such. But I expressed it a little differently. How exactly – I just do not remember, but …. ”
And having faltered, she is silent.

“Let me explain – Alexander Sergeevich comes to the rescue. – We are not talking about disrespect for fellow competitors! These are purely objective things … We get information and imagine who is capable of what. The information is a little fuzzy for the Chinese women – because there are too many. But in general, the picture is more or less clear. Alia had the highest level of program complexity. For all-around. For example, the vault: two and a half twists- none of the competitors could do this. And it gave a very big gap from the rest on just one event! Alia’s main rival was American Rebecca Bross. Compared with Bross, two events, vault and bars, gave Alia a solid advantage. She was supposed to have about 6 or 7 tenths on vault and 3-4 on the uneven bars. And now, that’s almost a point! A point – it means that you can even fall on such a treacherous event like beam and still be a champion! ”

– Alia, how did Alexander Sergeyevich manage to tame you?

– Maybe because he is like my dad … both externally and internally. Although I took a while to be accustomed to Alexander Sergeyevich. Two months. Each coach has his own technique. Not everyone is able to adapt. Moreover, I’m at that age. I don’t want to be forced. This means that I must do it myself. And I probably was not completely ready to be responsible for myself. Besides, Alexander Sergeyevich was raising the level of requirements higher. What went wrong at first? Well, yes, perhaps everything!

– Alexander, the threat of a heart attack that scared you as a joke, is that already behind us?

– I beg of you, what have I not seen? – Alexandrov laughed. – For that matter, I do not like complacency! Gymnasts performing at this level must have character. Softies can not win anything. (Internet said: A furry darling, as a rule, can not win anything.) They are good, I do not argue with that. But they just can not win! A man must have his own opinion, his “I”. Do you know how much Boginskaya frayed my nerves?

– Well, whose character is more difficult? Mustafina or Boginskaya?

– It didn’t come easy for both. Yes, I actually like it when my nerves are frayed. Argue, quarrel – and then at once find a working tone! And when they get up on a pedestal, you experience such happiness! This moment atones for everything.

Categorized as Interviews

Aliya Mustafina: Don’t call me the next Khorkina

Aliya Mustafina: Don’t call me the next Khorkina

(Credit goes to Senor Nico for Translation)

Original Article Here

The main heroine of the World Championships in Rotterdam, as part of the Russian team, won five medals (two gold and three silver). In an interview to “All Sport”, she shared her impressions of the most important competition of her career to date.

-Did anything disappoint you at the World Championships?

-Yes, of course, the beam final. I fell on my Arabian salto and ended up in seventh place. On the other hand, I have nothing to complain about: five medals including two gold. This is a very good result.

-Do you think the judges made a mistake in giving your vault difficulty 5.7 instead of 6.1?

-I don’t know how to think of this. Maybe they made a mistake, or maybe they specifically did this. However, it’s not my place to discuss the judges’ assessment. I only blame myself; I jumped from the line, and so the judges deducted me.

-Anton Golotsutskov, who on the silver medal on vault, said that the judges are prejudiced against Russian athletes.

-I repeat, athletes shouldn’t interfere with the judging. Our small matter is to compete. But in part I agree with Anton. To some extent I think the judges were against me.

-Probably. Not everyone likes that Russia has returned to the top position after a long break.

-I can’t say that we’re fully leaders yet. But yes, we were great as a team at the World Championships! But next to us are our strongest rivals: the Chinese, Americans, and Romanians.

-Which event was the easiest for you, and which was the hardest?

-The easiest to compete on are vault and floor exercise. The funny thing is beam is actually my favorite event. But as you know it’s quite unpredictable. One awkward move and you’re on the ground.

-Did you know that Russia hasn’t had a World All-Around Champion since 2003?

-Yes, of course the last time was Svetlana Khorkina 7 years ago in Anaheim. And I’m more than happy that I could bring the title back to Russia.

-What do you think about being called the next Khorkina?

-Nothing. It’s all the same to me. Svetlana was, of course, an amazing gymnast. But I have no idols and never have.

-What are you dreaming of now?

-Lying down to sleep. But now I can’t lie down because I’m running to a banquet. We’re walking regarding the end of the competitions.

-Did you buy yourself an evening dress in Rotterdam or brought one with you?

-I wasn’t able to go shopping here, not even for local, Holland gifts. I didn’t bring a dress because I prefer casual style. I’ll go to the banquet in jeans! The girls and I will go dancing for a bit at the club, and we’ll raise our glasses of juice to our victory. I can’t drink wine. I’m still a minor, you know. I’m only 16 years old.

GZT Interview

“I know nothing in life except gymnastics”

(Original Source Here) (Russian)

European champion in gymnastics in 2010 Alia Mustafina talks about her long-awaited 16’th birthday, about her new vault for the World Cup, her battle with nerves and weight, and about the fact that because of the gym she doesn’t have friends.

Line-up of the Russian gymnastics women’s team is permanently changing. Too many young talented girls began to show good results, and the coaches are trying different gymnasts to form the optimal line-up for the Olympics 2012. But there are gymnasts who firmly took place in the team. One of them is Aliya Mustafina, celebrating 16 years only on September 30 and, finally, waiting for the opportunity compete at the World Championships in Rotterdam where the team departs on October 10. Mustafina was noticed a few years ago. The girl shocked specialists by her availability and dedication in gymnastics. She won the junior international competitions, and now will be the main hope for the Russian team in the adult world championship. About her goals and hobbies Aliya said in an interview GZT.RU.

Q: Probably you can’t wait to your 16’th birthday to go to the World Championship?

A: Yes, I did. For a long time, I felt ready to perform at the WC. At least I really wanted to go to competitions last year. Therefore, the 16-years has been especially joyful for me. Now, I will go there! But I’m still very excited, maybe because I waited so long.

Q: What are the goals set for yourself?

A: I want to succeed as much as possible so that I will be happy. I plan to win medals at the uneven bars, the vault and all-around. Vault and bars are my favorite events, and I have the most difficult programs there. But generally, my specialization is All Around, so I will try to win medals in it.

Q: Did you have some changes in your programs compared to the European Championship?

A: From the European Championship, I just changed the vault. Now I have it much harder. I will perform a jump Yurchenko. It’s difficulty cost is 6.5 points. Today it is the most difficult vault, and almost nobody does it. My other programs remain unchanged.

Q: Was it hard to make such a difficult vault?

A: Of course, the workings of such difficult elements takes much time and energy. It was very hard, but i don’t regret it. It’s me, I wanted to train for it, I felt that I could overpower on it, and coaches agreed with me. And now I do it stable enough, so we decide to do it on World Championship. I have a big hope on this event. If I’ll do it good, it’ll be a success and i will be satisfied with myself.

Q: Have you prepared a special leotard for the World Cup?

A: On tuesday we got many new leotards. They are all different, and I like all of them. Every day at the World Championship, we will wear a new leotard. I don’t have a favorite. For me it doesn’t matter which of them I compete in.

Q: You have a young team. Who is the leader and the captain?

A: The captain is Ksenia Afanasyeva, but the leader… i don’t really know. We have a team, that’s why we have only a captain. Ksenia is the oldest and the most experienced gymnast on the team, so she is chosen by the girls and coaches.

Q: Do you have a close friend on the team?

A: We have a great team! I’m friends with all the girls, but I don’t have a best friend. For me, they’re all the same. Maybe it’s because I spend too much time in gymnastics.
Sports for me is my priority.

Q: The world championship is very long, and the competition is on a very difficult level. Who helps you adjust to the competition?

A: Yes, it’s tough both physically and psychologically. The girls help each other, cheering, saying that should gathering. Coaches are also trying to adjust. And all our recovering, relaxing procedures help too. But I do not like to talk with relatives before the competition and do not like when fan for me. My mom even is afraid to watch because when I compete, she’s too worried.

Q: Really the Chinese gymnasts are not the leaders already? And what is the secret of success for the asians?

A: In my opinion, in the women’s gymnastics, the leaders are still the Chinese. They are small and lightweight, make less mistakes than all the others. It’s clear that’s these are the reasons why they win. I would not say that they have the most difficult programs in the world. The point is they make no mistakes. Perhaps they have some kind of crafty methods in training.

Q: In Russia there is enough serious competition among the gymnasts now. How do you manage to win?

A: Yes, we have a lot of great girls, and fighting for a place in the team is very serious. This spurs more challenging workouts every time. For myself, I believe that more training leads to better results, but of course you require talent and ability in gymnastics. This is my success. From childhood I love it, it is now the meaning of my life. In general I know nothing in life except gymnastics. Even I go to school only when there is free time. During preparation for a competition I vacate from the school.

Q: And is there is a gymnast, which is an idol for you?

A: No. I’ve never had any idols. I’ve always wanted to be unique and like no one else, ever. I have my own way in gymnastics.

Q: The Olympics will take place just less then two years. In theory it should get to the peak of your career …

A: Yes. I think that the Olympics will coincide with the peak of my career, as long as I dont’ get injured. I will be almost 18 years old, have time to go through two world championships, and have much experience. And the awkward age will end. I will form the nervous system, the ideal weight. Because now I sometimes have to work hard at it: My nerves are acting up, and there are weight problems. But I don’t use diets because training is the best.

Categorized as Interviews

International Gymnastics – 2009 Japan Cup

IG contributor Kaori Miyaura chatted with Russia’s Aliya Mustafina during the Japan Cup this weekend in Tokyo.

Aliya Mustafina (Russia) leaps on balance beam at the 2009 Japan Cup in Tokyo.

Mustafina, a junior, helped Russia finish second to China in the team competition on Saturday. On Sunday, she finished second all-around behind China’s Huang Quishuang and ahead of teammate Tatiana Nabiyeva.

Born Sept. 30, 1994, Mustafina is one of Russia’s top prospects for the 2012 Olympic Games. She finished second all-around behind Nabiyeva at the 2008 Junior European Gymnastics Championships in Clermont-Ferrand.

Mustafina trains at Moscow’s Central Sport Army Club (CSKA) with coaches Olga Sikorro and Sergei Zelikson. Her younger sister, Nailia Mustafina, is also a member of Russia’s junior team, and won the silver medal on floor exercise at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships in San Jose.

Following the team competition in Tokyo, Miyaura caught up with Mustafina, who will be eligible for senior competition in 2010.

IG: When is the next competition for you?

AM: The Russian Cup is my next competition. It’s going to be held in the end of August in Penza. After going back home, I’ll be working toward it.

IG: Do you have any gymnasts as your role model?

AM: I like Nastia Liukin (U.S.). I adore her elegant and beautiful performances with difficult elements. I like especially her graceful uneven bars and balance beam.

Among the Russians, I like Ksenia Afanasyeva. I respect her strong and beautiful gymnastics.

IG: Could you tell us your future goals?

AM: To participate in the 2012 Olympics in London. But just participating is not enough. I want to show good enough performances and make a good contribution to lead our team to good results.

IG: Could you give a message to international fans?

AM: Me? To international fans? Is it OK from me?

IG: Yes, of course. You have worldwide fans.

AM: I’d like to say thank you very much to everybody who supports me.

Categorized as Interviews