Photo by Silvia Vatteroni
Just before the uneven bars final at the Rio Olympics, Russia's Aliya Mustafina told her parents that this will be the last routine in her gymnastics career. That routine brought her her second Olympic gold medal which was what any athlete wants, to end their career on a high note. But thanks to the gym Gods, she had a change of heart.

"I was certainly leaving Rio thinking that it’s finally over. The Games were extremely hard, not just for me, for everyone" Mustafina said in an interview by which was translated by Gymnovosti.

The Russian gymnast believes that she is not done yet with the sport and considers the current period as only a temporary break from gymnastics.

The motive behind her desire to comeback was never about personal success. She is not looking forward to achieve a certain goal or win medals. She is only doing it for herself, for the team and for the joy of it. 

"My main measure for everything is whether it brings me joy. Helping the team makes me happy. I’m so happy that I can help the team that I don’t want it to ever end."

She added that she enjoys the 'extra responsibility' of helping and leading the younger gymnasts.

Mustafina, who is heavily pregnant, finds the experience of a comeback after giving birth a very interesting one.

She will start getting in shape slowly and see how it goes.

While her husband and her father are supporting her in her comeback decision, her mother is not comfortable with the idea citing her daughter's injuries.

But when exactly is she making her comeback?

Mustafina does not know when exactly is she going to resume training. However, she believes that she might be able to decide the time of her comeback in the fall. It could be this year or the next one.

But coming back to competitive gymnastics after motherhood is no stranger to the sport's scene.

Gymnasts like Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina and Soviet Larissa Latynina have continued competing after giving birth.

(see Gymnasts Who Continued Elite Gymnastics After Motherhood)

The 22 year old two time Olympic champion is currently enjoying the break, she meets friends, can stay in bed all day, goes to the movies and goes shopping. But that was never new to her as she was never deprived of anything when she was a full time gymnast.

On always appearing not ready during precompetition training, Aliya said that she prefers to be not completely ready when she goes to competitions.

"It’s easier for me to go to the competitions in such a shape that needs improvement. And when I arrive at the competition city – a week, or 10 days, or 2 weeks before competing – I’m reaching my peak shape."

"Because if I will travel completely ready, I can only go down from there."

Written by Gigi Farid



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