Maria Paseka. Photograph: Maria Paseka's Instagram

Russia’s Maria Paseka came into the Rio Olympics as a two-time Olympic medallist and as the current world champion on vault. Despite a back injury sustained just before the Games, Paseka competed fiercely for her team and for herself, winning two silver medals, in the team competition and on vault.

In an interview to Ginnastica Artistica Italiana, which came out today, Paseka talked about the Olympics and how she has been spending these post-Olympic months.

How was Rio different from London? For Paseka, her London experience helped her build her confidence for Rio. ‘From a psychological point of view, I found the Rio Olympics a little easier than London,’ she explained. ‘In London, I was extremely worried and under pressure.’

And of course, the team members were different: ‘From a practical point of view, the only thing that changed was the team formation, which included our new little girls.’ Paseka and Aliya Mustafina were the only members of the London 2012 team to compete also in Rio. They were joined by Angelina Melnikova, Seda Tutkhalian and Daria Spiridonova.

But ‘the Olympics is always the Olympics!’, added Paseka.  ‘The only thoughts crossing my mind were not to let my team and country down, as well as myself in the individual final.’

Paseka spent the two months after the Olympics in Germany, treating her back and spending time with her family.

‘I was in Germany after Rio,’ explained Paseka. ‘There, they helped me take care of myself.  And I had time to rest and enjoy some time with my family. I was treated by a doctor through physiotherapy and massages, and I also did some gymnastics.’

How is her back doing? ‘The doctors said that my back needed surgery and that I should end my gymnastics career here, but I refused! I still want to make a run for Tokyo [2020], but I can't guarantee anything at this point. It’s still too early, let's just see what happens. I don't like thinking too much about the future.’

Any big goals for the future? In gymnastics, Paseka has only one goal in mind: ‘An Olympic gold.’

And outside gymnastics? Paseka would like to become an international coach: ‘I would like to coach gymnastics in the future. I'd love to work not only in Russia, but also in such countries as USA, Spain or Italy.’

Maria Paseka is supposed to be back training this month.


By Talitha Ilacqua


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