From March 26th.
Much love to the man for always being so…frank.
In an interview with R-Sport, Russian Women’s Gymnastics Team Head Coach Aleksandr Aleksandrov talked about the girls competing for a spot on the Russian team and about vault, which would help beat the Americans and about how a bicycle kept one girl from going to London.
Q : Three gymnasts missed the Russian Championships. Viktoria Komova’s absence was due to her operation. How serious was that procedure?
A : She is already training at full strength, we just did not make her take part in the National Championships. The operation was necessary in order to lessen some blood drainage in her ankle. That cost us two weeks. We could have just lowered the training load, but then the problem could have cropped up again at any moment. It’s an injury track & field athletes have a lot, when the front side of the shin starts to hurt. When it flames up, you really can’t have any load. Rebecca Bross, the American gymnast, experienced something similar, but it happened before a World Championships. They drew it out and then she had to have a serious operation. We decided to take care of it right away, to keep anything from getting worse.
– Way to be proactive. I’m happy to hear that the surgery was indeed minor. Perhaps we’ll see her at European’s after all.
Q : Tatiana Nabieva did not compete at the Voronin Cup in December, and she did not come to Penza.
A : She is having a really challenging time right now. She is having a hard time deciding if she can fulfill the training plans she’s been given. Nabieva has to meet the requirements of the Russian National Team, and that is not that simple. She has been ill a lot with colds and fevers which have taken their toll on her. When she doesn’t train, she gains weight and of course, that leads to problems. We let her skip training camps for a while, and she is at home.
– This answer doesn’t really do anything to fend off those Nabieva-retirement rumors. If she’s genuinely unmotivated and out of shape, I don’t think she has plans of going to London. The only way they’d consider taking her anyway is if she has an Amanar.
Q : We haven’t heard anything for a long time about Yekaterina Kurbatova who won a team gold with Russia in 2010. Is she still training?
A : She has pretty much finished. As far as I know, she is at CSKA, “sort of working out”. She is even already helping others in their training. But we haven’t put anything on her for a while. I mean in terms of the Olympic team or bringing her back to the National Team.
Q : You said that 10 gymnasts are in contention for the Olympic team. Komova, Aliya Mustafina, Anastasia Grishina, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Maria Paseka…
(Yuliya) Inshina, (Yuliya) Belokobylskaya, (Anastasia) Sidorova.
Sidorova is the same age as Grishina right?
A : Yes, that’s right. She competed with Grishina at the European Junior Championships two years ago. She has three good events: beam, which is stable and has a high difficulty value, floor and vault. She is vaulting a DTY right now and is close to a 2 1/2. But last year she decided to go ride a bike, even though she doesn’t really know how very well. And she ran into something and tipped over the handlebars and broke her hand. A lot of time was spent on healing that injury — all the wrist bones are so small. So, she is not able to train like she should even though we are counting on her to the end. At the Russian Cup (in June) we should see Sidorova, though there is a risk. So much time has passed and she hasn’t been in any serious meets, but she still has a chance to make the Olympic Games.
Q : The ninth girl is Anna Dementyeva. Did she miss Penza due to a sore throat?
A : Yes, she had a very sore throat. She was supposed to fly to a meet in Italy, but stayed in Penza because of her cold. She only came into the arena twice, just for a symbolic 30 minutes, to avoid any complications.
Q : If not for her cold, what could she have counted on here?
A : She was training really, really well the past two weeks; she was in good shape. We had certain hopes for her making a presence at the championships. But it didn’t work out that way.
Q : And who is number 10? Is it Nabieva?
A : Yes, she is in the 10. These are the gymnasts who can show results and who can handle the training loads. Five girls will go to European Championships in the beginning of May. We’ll announce the team after 18 April, after a meet in Switzerland.
Q : The last time I saw Aliya Mustafina was at the Voronin Cup. You can see the changes since then and it looks like she has had a fruitful winter. At least she doesn’t have any weight issues now, right?
A : Yes, she lost weight and has trained a lot. Aliya understands that you have to work a lot to make the team. Nothing happens, “just like that”.
Q : What part of her routines has she been able to recover?
A : Her bars set is practically fully back. She did a 7-point difficulty routine twice — that’s one of the best difficulty scores in the world. She still has a lot of work to do on all the other events; we’re just not forcing things. We haven’t even really started working on floor and vault. She vaulted a DTY for the first time at Russian championships and we were a bit nervous. The injury hasn’t been completely forgotten yet; we need time. They recommend taking a year off after injuries like that. In April, it will have been a year and there is a lot of work ahead. Her base scores have to be improved on beam and floor. And you have to vault an Amanar to contend for first place. If you vault a DTY, then you’ve just given your rivals 0.7 points. And it’s hard to make that p on the other events. Whether you want to or not, you have to go out with your former program.
Q : Komova is vaulting a DTY, too, so far.
A : When we were at World Championships, she tried doing an Amanar, but it wasn’t quite ready. There wasn’t enough time. But Komova has a real chance of getting that vault, too.
Q : Besides Mustafina and Komova, will Grishina be fighting to compete in the all-around? It looks like she has added a lot in the past year.
A : Naturally. The only thing she is really missing right now is experience in competition. She hasn’t competed for a long time and hasn’t competed with the seniors. But there are still competitions before the Olympic Games. On day one in Penza, you could she how she was shaking. But even though she wobbled today on beam, she stayed on. And she did floor and bars during her additional routine. Grishina is headed to Italy now and then to Switzerland. But if she is thinking seriously about the all-around, she needs a 2 1/2 vault. That is very important for everyone. Then the gymnasts have better chances at individual medals and those vaults can take the team to a higher level.
– Alexandrov is really smoking the Amanar crack, and perhaps with good reason.
Grishina’s DTY was much improved at Jesolo, but is it upgradeable? She gets a decent amount of height, but very little distance. She seems to take a nap before she finally starts to twist :
Still, we’re enamored at her rapid improvement.
Q : Ksenia Afanasyeva also promised to fight for the all-around. What chance does she have?
A : Ksenia has a very good floor routine, but everything depends on vault. All the American girls fighting for the all-around will have Amanars. They have problems on the other events, but none serious enough to be called holes.
Q : Speaking of problems, do you mean less-than-ideal execution on bars?
A : They do have weaker bar routines and their execution is weaker, too. Their bar routines are more stable, but compared to our girls, they are behind.
Q : Are they not light enough?
A : You know, everyone has their own system of preparation. The Americans have more strength and they are bigger. We have choreographers in our gyms for example working with girls. In America, they choose stronger girls and they don’t have choreographers working with them except on the higher levels. So our gymnasts have more of the winning look. Everyone has their aces and we need to keep up. We beat them two years ago, and now we have had a dip that we have to fill as quick as we can.
– I couldn’t agree more. I don’t care if Jordyn Wieber is “the best gymnast in the world.” It’s impossible to compare her with someone like Grishina when it comes to aesthetics. When she’s not falling all over the place, Grishina (and Komova) have it. Wieber does not. Unfortunately, having “it” doesn’t win gold medals when you don’t hit.
Q : What other teams besides the US and Russia will be contending for the gold? The Chinese?
A : Yes. And the Romanians have a good girl, too.
Q : But just one…
A : We’ll see. Europeans are coming and then we’ll see.
– We’ll assume “the one” he’s referring to is Chelaru. Kidding.