We’ve rounded up some of the Russian press after the team final at the 2014 World Championships to get an idea as to how they felt about their performances.
“We were afraid that we would repeat the result the guys got yesterday,” Aliya Mustafina said, referring to the men’s team placing fifth after counting multiple falls across several events. “We tried to imagine that there are no results or scores, and just wanted to finish the job and perform beautifully. Competing is always exciting and scary, but today I tried to do everything confidently and boldly, and I’m glad we did it.”
“I was afraid that the team might be frightened and would make mistakes,” she added, “so I tried to help them. Daria Spiridonova and Maria Kharenkova told me that they really like it when I talk to them while they’re competing [sounds like she means yelling support when they’re on their events], so if they ask me for help, I help.”
She was definitely a bit exhausted after competing the all-around twice so far at this World Championships, with one more four-event performance to go at tomorrow’s all-around finals. “I am tired,” she admitted, “but there is a day to recover.”
Kharenkova, the reigning European champion on beam who was unable to make the final at Worlds, said she was unable to perform to the best of her ability due to injury.
“I have a sore leg and had to train through the pain,” admitted Kharenkova. “But now the pain is gone and I’m slowly recovering. I got back into training full routines just two weeks before World Championships, and managed to get everything back…and today, almost everything worked out!”
About qualifications, she says “the first day I was a bit nervous, and because of this, I fell off beam. I was nervous from the realization that I was competing at the World Championships for the very first time. But today, in team finals, I felt much calmer and more confident. At some points, we were a little upset when it looked like we weren’t going to get a medal, but we were able to fight.”
“I am a little sad that I didn’t make the final on my best event, beam. But what can I do? Now I’ll be rooting for all of our competitors [who did make finals]!”
Alla Sosnitskaya, also in her first World Championships, says that she and her teammates had faith that they could finish in the team final throughout the entire competition.
“We were watching the scoreboard, trying to figure out what scores we needed in order to understand what we needed to do,” Sosnitskaya said. “To be honest, until the last moment, we believed we could win a medal! We knew that with our vault rotation, we could get around the Romanians. And we did it.”
“I was very nervous,” she adds, discussing her floor routine. “I like to do everything clean, but gymnasts make mistakes. My legs just gave out…and same with vault. But I still have power! I just need to calm down. When I perform in the all-around and vault finals, I will try to concentrate and do things calmly. Then I shouldn’t have errors.”
Tatiana Nabieva said that she was very nervous in the team final, but tried not to show it because she didn’t want to worry her young teammates.
“We are very pleased, even with third place!” she said. “Indeed, we have a lot of brand new girls, and this was their first time performing at this level of competition. I myself felt like I did during my first time at World Championships…but though I was nervous before the competition, when we entered the arena I had to show I wasn’t. Ekaterina Kramarenko and I looked at the young girls and said we had to keep our nerves to ourselves.”
Nabieva admitted that it was a “very tough competition. Romania fought to the very end. When we finished vault, we watched them on beam and worried that they would prevail.”
In terms of her career following the World Championships, she noted that “most likely, I’ll come back to training after the break, but my chance of continuing in competition is about fifty-fifty.”
Kramarenko agreed with Nabieva, stating that even experience at this high level of competition didn’t help her cope with nerves during her performance, especially on balance beam.
“Generally, experience helps, but even with that experience I fell on beam,” Karamarenko said. “At the beginning I felt fine and didn’t worry, but I missed the first element and began to shake terribly.”
Overall, she was satisfied with the level of their performances at Worlds. “I’m happy because I’m actually fully back,” she noted, referring to her comeback. “On the first day of competition, I was able to compete much better than today. Now that I got to compete with the team at this level, I can say that I finally came back after my break.”
Svetlana Khorkina weighed in on the competition as well, and she didn’t seem pleased.
“They could have fought for the silver medal, but didn’t have any confidence,” the two-time Olympic champion said. “I believe that our gymnasts did not have any stamina or self-confidence. It wasn’t about fighting for first place, but they could have still fought for silver against the young girls from China.”
“I must say that even I, a person who competed at this level feeling very charged psychologically, was worried last night for the team. I feel bad that completely stupid mistakes affected the results.”
Khorkina criticized the fact that the best in Russia were not able to compete well, and doesn’t think they can blame injuries. “Injuries were a problem in my time as well. It isn’t an excuse. This is the business of the coach, the athlete, the doctor – those involved in preparation and the athletes only,” adding that it’s not an excuse the public should hear.
Article by Lauren Hopkins