Aiming for next spring's Europeans in Moscow, world and Olympic gymnastics champion Aliya Mustafina (Russia) says she has no plans to slow down as she heads back into competition Friday at the 30th DTB Cup Germany.
Mustafina, 18, is on the roster for the team competition in Stuttgart, held in conjunction with the FIG World Cup all-around events on Saturday and Sunday. It will be her first competition since her successful Olympics in London, where her haul of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals made her the most decorated gymnast of the Games and most decorated athlete from Russia.
Aliya Mustafina (Russia) will be back in action at the DTB Cup
Mustafina, who earned her Olympic gold medal on uneven bars, said her status as Olympic champion has not affected her competitive plans.
"Actually I don’t even try to think about that I am an Olympic champion," she said recently in an interview with Voice of Russia radio. "I should work hard without concentrating on my titles."
In Stuttgart, Mustafina will represent Russia — along with Kristina Goryunova, Yulia Inshina and Anna Rodionova — in the team competition against Austria, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.
Mustafina said she is reworking some of her routines to compete under the revised Code of Points that will go into effect in January.
"I can't say my programs will be changed drastically," she said. "We just need to rebuild my programs in accordance with new requirements. For example my beam routine will basically remain the same, but we will have to make a completely new combination on bars. A great number of bonuses have been annulled and I will have to replace some connections with other elements that will help me post a high score on this apparatus."
Since 2008, Mustafina has trained under legendary coach Alexander Alexandrov, who returned to Russia after 15 years in the U.S. to take the role as head coach. At the 2010 Worlds, Russia won its first world title as a team, and Mustafina won the all-around gold. A torn ACL suffered in April 2011 kept her out of that year's worlds in Tokyo.
Following the Olympics, unhappiness with the Russians' performance in London led to Alexandrov being ousted from his position as head coach and replaced by Yevgeny Grebyonkin. Alexandrov remains under contact until the end of December, but it remains to be seen if he will stay in Russia to coach Mustafina or return to live with his family in Texas.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding her coach, Mustafina is forging ahead with her competitive goals. She said she would be honored to compete at next year's European championships in her hometown, April 17-21. The event previously took place in Moscow in 1987.
"It's a great honor to perform at the championship of such a high caliber, especially when it’s staged on your home soil," she said. "It's my biggest wish to compete in Moscow."
Mustafina admits she has another wish in the back of her mind — another shot at Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro.
"I'm dreaming of being on the team for the 2016 Olympics," she said. "At first I need to be a member of this team, and then we will see what I can do in Rio."
Aliya Mustafina is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:
September 2012: Olympic Games special issue, Mustafina on cover photo collage
July/August 2012: Olympic preview, Mustafina on cover photo collage
May 2011: European Championships coverage, Mustafina on cover
January 2011: "The Mustafina Mystique" (profile)
December 2010: World Championships special issue, Mustafina on cover
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