At just 23, Anna Rizatdinova already boasts an impressive CV that anyone would dream of having at such a young age.
The talented rhythm gymnast’s trophy cabinet is filled with a rich haul of medals including four bronzes and two silvers at the European Championships as well as nine bronzes, two silvers and a gold at the World Championships.
It was only a matter of time before she achieved her dream of winning an Olympic medal. That was
duly delivered in August in Rio, getting her hands on bronze in the all-round category.
The Ukrainian was a special guest at the inaugural Dubai International Rhythmic Gymnastics DuGym Cup that attracted more than 200 young competitors at Al Manana Sports Hall.
After wowing the guests with a special exhibition performance, she spoke to Sport360° about her career highlights, the Rio Olympics and her plans for the future.
You’re here at the first Dubai International Rhythmic Gymnastics DuGym Cup. How impressed were you with the competition and the talent you saw?
I’m very happy to be here and thrilled to be in Dubai for their first-ever rhythmic gymnastics tournament. It’s really encouraging to see many youths compete here especially so many who have
flown to the UAE to be here.
It’s very encouraging and there were some really good performances. I really do hope it can continue getting stronger every year and get more people involved.
It was just four months ago that you achieved your childhood dream by winning
bronze at the Olympic Games. Can you recall those moments?
The Olympic Games was always one of those big dreams I had when I was a young child. I had been working very hard every day for four years for this competition because it’s one that any athlete would want to be part of.
When I finished my routine and found out that I won bronze, I cried because I couldn’t believe what had happened.
Even though I couldn’t get gold, the bronze All-rounder now part of Rio rhythm medal was special to me because it was the Olympic Games.
Now I’m enjoying life and you can say that I’ve now achieved my main goal, that I had been working on for the last 17 years. Now my dream has come true, so I’m happy.
Now you’ve got the bronze, will you be working as hard as ever to win gold in
As of now, I don’t know. I will continue training hard as I can but every year, each competition
is getting more difficult as you have competitors improving while there are new faces also competing.
I will continue competing and put in 100 per cent in 2017 but after that we will see what the future holds.
How much has your life changed since the Olympics?
It has changed a lot. After I flew back from Brazil, it’s been completely different. A lot more people have begun to recognise me which was great.
It has also raised the profile of gymnastics. Before the Olympics, gymnastics was only a small sport that not many people knew of or were interested in. But now they know who I am and what I do and for me it’s great as it gives me such big pleasure.
You’ve won a series of medals in European and World Championships. What has been the key to your success?
I really love gymnastics and that is really important. It’s not just a job for me. It’s my life. I train every day putting in a lot of hours six days a week with only Sunday being my day off.
To work hard, you need to have that passion and always push yourself. Without dedication, you can’t produce positive results so I always have a mindset that I want to continue training hard.
You’re just 23, still plenty of years ahead of you. What are you plans for the future?
I don’t know. Maybe one or two years I want to carry on but let’s see after that. During my spare time, I am now writing books for young gymnasts and the future generation in order to give them an insight of what qualities are needed to succeed.
I’m doing this because I want to share my tips and advice and hopefully it can motivate them to do well.
Whenever I do retire, I would like to start coaching some of the younger ones but definitely
see myself doing something related to gymnastics, whether it’s as a judge or working for an organisation.
Apart from gymnastics, what do you do in your free time?
I love travelling, going to the cinema, reading and meeting my friends. When I’m training in the gym, it’s quite hard not to have a social life but when time permits me, I like do a lot of things as it keeps me refreshed. Before the Oympic Games it was impossible.
How tough is your training schedule?
It’s difficult. I start at 09:00 and finish at 19:00 and all the time I’m in the gym, working on different techniques, working on various issues whether it’s stretching or doing weight work. It’s very hectic but sport is always like that.
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