In Translation: The Russians Discuss Their Performance

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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

7 thoughts on “In Translation: The Russians Discuss Their Performance

  1. I agree with Khorkina, and her record is a symbol of her competitive spirit. I was trying to say the same on RRG but it seems she is now moderating her comments before publishing so you know what that means if you criticize her girls 😉 Anyways, Kharenkova was all ‘my legs were sore two weeks ago (prolly finally conditioning) and I only started feeling 100% today.’
    But i’m like is it a given now that after a weak performance some form of post-meet absolution will always come from the Russians. And always to the press?

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  2. I actually agree with Khorkina, as well. I feel as if the Russian issue is twofold, mostly. One is their lack of conditioning. They almost always look exhausted (even Mustafina, but she just has this incredible competitive spirit that pulls her through) compared to teams like the US, Romania, or even GB or Italy. They are also the most fragile team out there, I think, so I think their dozens of little (and some big) recurring injuries really point back to their lack of conditioning. Their second problem is a major lack of confidence. I realize this team was not their full A team, but it was not the full A team for almost any team competing. I think there needs to a be a good balance of both pressure and encouragement and I am not so sure Russia has this down compared to other teams (not just talking a out the US, but also GB, Romania, etc.)

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  3. The Russians call it like they see it. 🙂 I think Russia was lucky to get the bronze. Romania was one beam routine away from taking the bronze from them. The Russian media shouldn’t be so hard on their girls for making it on the podium. They had zero chance at gold. So, this is a lot of angst spent on the bronze that might have been silver.

    The problem in WAG right now is that the US is so far ahead of the field. Trying to catch up with the US team is running all other teams into the ground. (Keeping up with the US team is running US gymnasts into the ground, as well.) The pressure to put up high D-scores is causing many injuries. I also have a feeling that some gymnasts are competing routines that they are not fully prepared to compete. This leads to doubts and untimely falls.

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    • I don’t really think high D-scores are the problem. Kyla Ross doesn’t have a huge D score. Someone did an awesome d-score comparison chart and Kyla’s is way down compared to Biles, Iordache, Black, and a bunch of others. She is the #2 gymnast in the US and arguably the world. So, I think the idea that D-scores are to blame and Marta only wants a high D is wrong. I think it is an easy out for a much harder explanation. The Code has actually balanced out compared to the 2008 quad. The Amanar is devalued so that people like Mustafina and Ross who hit huge, well executed DTY’s can equal or even outscore a messy Amanar. I really think it is a conditioning and confidence issue more than a code issue.

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    • Russia’s habit of upgrading after Euros is a big problem because China does their upgrades over winter, USA over late winter and spring, Russia’s like ‘we’ll just go to euros and make our team rank embarrass us into upgrades.’ Upgrading that late leaves little time for serious stability, confidence and consistency, and the Russian Cup does NOT count as a platform for readiness because they are so relaxed there that it in no way resembles what a real competition is gonna be like (plus, judges always neglect to downgrade SV for broken connections so when they show up at world’s and get lower than expected they start freaking the hell out every time after that).

      But like I said before, and something im so happy even Khorkina notices, they use injury like a bench to sit on now. Reporters don’t need to hear of every sore throat, migraine, and paper cut you had that somehow prevented you from being in top form. Every gymnast, nay, every athlete, is in a state of pain and they work through it; some will succeed and some will still fail in their goals but for the Russians to AWAYS be bringing up their pain in a discussion of performance is unnecessary because of the timing and the platform they choose. I remember when they used to believe in that too, but now the staff encourage their girls to remind media of every negative background detail they’ve suffered through all so their own heads wont be on the chopping block while simultaneously saying ‘we don’t make excuses but this gymnasts was sick/injured/recovering/dying…’ I guess what i don’t like is that, excepting 2014 Euros, they are very hush hush/vague on the gymnasts health at regular training times and before a competition, but right after a meet is done the floodgates open…

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  4. I feel that the Russian Federation is in need of a leadership change and I think Khorkina will be perfect for the job. to me this federation is run in a very unprofessional manner in which the full potential of the gymnast are not been met because of nepotism, pettiness, bias, cronyism. I don’t believe that Russia has a problem in recruiting girls like other nations because of lack of participation, is more of a group of individuals running the system in out dated practices that no longer work. you have to look and ask yourself why is it that we always seem to be injured or unprepared. something has to change.
    the Russian athletes also lack in the mental strength and focus department (well a lot of the WAG teams). this is one thing about the USA girls, they are a strong mentally. is not that they don’t make mistake or have wobbles, is that they are so good at minimizing them is amazing. Kyla and Simone refuse to fall from that beam. that to me defined the competition and what Martha has giving to the USA system. mental strength and the ability to create a environment that produces competition among the girls but a bond and unity with each other. The US also practices as they compete and compete as they practice. there is no jumping off the beam if something is not correct in practice. there is no half ass attitude when training because you are aware that there is 3 or 4 other girls who will be willing to go the extra mile to be on the team. there are no excuses. Kyla was hold by tape and she did her job. The World needs to emulate. The USA is the old dominating Romania. difficulty and execution with amazing mental strength.

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