Worlds Updates — Melnikova the overachiever — Must-click links

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, September 11, 2021

Things are still pretty slow since the Olympics ended, but we do have some news on the worlds front.

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Russia’s worlds team

This week, the Russian team was named in the form of Angelina Melnikova and Vladislava Urazova, who won’t be doing the all-around, Gymnovosti reports. Joining the Olympians are rookies Maria Minaeva and Yana Vorona, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, at the most recent Russian Cup. No word as of yet on why Viktoria Listunova isn’t on the roster.

Based on this team, I’d say worlds will be an exciting opportunity for Melnikova to try for an all-around title and for Urazova to finally get a much-deserved individual medal. For Minaeva and Vorona this competition will be a great experience, as they likely wouldn’t have had this opportunity had worlds not overlapped with an Olympic year.

Great Britain hosts worlds trials

Great Britain also held their worlds trials last week, and it was a doozy. Only four athletes competed — Georgia-Mae Fenton, Becky Downie, Taeja James, and Ruby Stacey, and aside from Fenton, who topped 53 on both days, it looks like it was quite the splatfest.

Claudia Fragapane was away competing at Koper, where she won floor, so she’ll still factor into the team decision. Hopefully Downie will be selected, but we’ll see what kind of shenanigans the federation can pull this time.

Looking forward

Dutch Gymnerd reports that Dutch qualifications will happen on September 11 and 18, but the Wevers twins won’t be contending for spots this year. The Chinese National Games are coming up on September 15–27 and the U.S. will hold their trials at the last minute from October 7–10, according to The Gymternet’s events calendar.

News from other countries will likely trickle in later this month.

Gymnastics news

  • It’s been five years since Lansing State Journal started covering the Larry Nassar scandal. Here, they share a collection of articles on where we stand in the fight for accountability and a culture shift at Michigan State University.
  • Speaking of institutional failures, the Senate Judiciary Committee will host a hearing on September 15 on why it took so damn long for the FBI to investigate abuse allegations against Larry Nassar, and why the matter was handled so poorly in general (KTXS).
  • The Koper World Challenge Cup concluded on Sunday. There, Tjasa Kysselef took the vault title, Barbora Mokosova won bars, Cassie Lee won beam, and Claudia Fragapane won floor (full results via The Gymternet).
  • Next up, we have the Mersin World Challenge Cup, which starts and finishes this weekend. Notably, Ana Derek is competing, and Larisa Iordache was on the nominative registration, but was not included in the FIG’s competition preview, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she withdrew.
  • Martina Dominici, who was recently suspended from the sport for doping, denies wrongdoing (The All-Around).
  • Morgan Hurd left First State Gymnastics, and it’s all very sad*:

*BUT we’ll see her on the GOAT tour!

  • In NCAA news, Alisson Lapp of Long Island University announced her retirement from NCAA gymnastics, and Cal’s Kyana George is injured. In more pleasant news, the Bruins are back to training, and to their antics:

  • A new Lifetime documentary about Aly Raisman and her advocacy for sexual assault survivors will premiere on September 24.
  • The Gadirova twins were on TV and did a joint beam routine. Does synchronized beaming need to become a new Olympic event? I’m glad you asked because yes it does.
  • Jordan Chiles is now a runway model?

Tweet of the week

Just Morgan being Morgan

Five at the IX: Angelina Melnikova

Angelina Melnikova spoke to the Russian press after returning home from Tokyo. Originally published in Gymnovosti, a gymnastics website that shares translations of gymnastics stories for the English-speaking world. Shared with permission (thanks, Luba!).

On the Olympic postponement:

It was hard to endure these Olympics psychologically. The Games were postponed by a year, it’s an enormously long period of time for an athlete. But the postponement was favorable for my body. In two months I didn’t train during the lockdown, my minor injuries healed and my body became healthier. But ti imagine another year and a half of training instead of six months was hard. We training at the locked-down training center where people from the outside were not allowed because of the pandemic. For months, we didn’t see anyone, even our families, and only phones were our saviors. I’m an active person, I am always interested in something, but before these Olympics, I felt apathetic for the first time, when I only wanted to lie down after practices. I lived from practice to practice, and for me, this is the same as degeneration.

On competing as the ROC:

At the previous Olympics, there was a feeling of team spirit, that we’re one country. This time, we competed under the neutral flag and not everyone recognized us. Other athletes came up to us and asked, “What country are you from?” It was weird. Usually, people recognize us from far away, but this time, it was like we were in a shadow, even though, inside, we all competed for Russia.

How far she’s come since Rio:

I have impressive experience, I’ve competed for five years with no breaks, without missing a single major competition. Because of that, at competitions, I feel calm, if I’m in a good shape, and a bit of anxiety even keeps me on my toes and helps me focus. Competing is the hardest when you’re injured. I always worry about my health, because without it, my career would end. The main guidance from my coach is to protect myself.

On staying motivated through puberty:

I wanted to be a regular teenager, especially during puberty. Hormones are raving, it’s harder to train, it’s impossible to keep your weight in check, and you think, “God, regular people are happy, and what about me?” But since childhood, athletes get used to overcoming themselves, fighting difficulties and never giving up. My dedication helped me.

I wanted to quit it all once, when I was nine years old. I remember how my ear hurt and it was painful to flip, but I didn’t tell any of the coaches this, endured it, and only cried at home and said that I would not train anymore.”

On how she deals with adversity in training and in competition:

When an element isn’t working out for me, I just describe it in words out loud and add that it will definitely work out tomorrow. I used to get really upset and repeat the routine over and over to the point of exhaustion, but now I take it easier – if it doesn’t work out, then next time.

Once, at a competition, I forgot which foot I start the run with. I made a step back and completely forgot where I am, but then I did everything on the autopilot – such things happen because of the nerves.

Now I understand that the most important thing is to listen to yourself. Sooner or later you get tired from the advice of coaches, parents, and other people, and you need to know how to listen to this inner voice, it doesn’t let you down. I live my life with the thought that I do everything only for myself. It’s not selfishness, it’s just you get exactly as much as you give.

Check out the full interview at Gymnovosti!