Winner Takes it All
Pain and Gain of Russian Rhythmic Gymnasts
Rhythmic gymnastics competitions are a huge favorite among sports enthusiasts. The discipline originated in Russia, and this country continues setting the bar for excellence and creativity. Russian rhythmic gymnasts have gained quite an amount of fame worldwide because of the famous legendary coach Irina Viner Usmanova. She is said to have had a revolutionary impact on the lives of the many famous athletes she has trained. She is well known for creating routines for them that have wowed international judges.
Irina Viner’s love for children and her strict discipline combine perfectly to elicit outstanding results from her gymnasts. It has been said that she strives to find an individual approach to each of her athletes and to figure out the best way to motivate them personally. Those who have worked with her call her ‘a coach sent from God’.
A gymnast’s career is typically over by the time she turns 21-22 years old. However, if she wants to become outstanding, she must put her whole life on hold until then. The grueling training schedule leaves the athletes no time for normal teenage activities. They have to adhere to a strict diet and every gymnast is given a personal weight limit, which she must not exceed. Even as little 300 grams can keep her from performing at her peak because it places unnecessary pressure on the bones.
Alina Kabayeva, 2004 Rythmic Gymnastic Olympic Champion, looks back at her experience and tells how when she first started she was required to lose 3 kg in three days. She was determined to prove herself and went on a total fast, only having water. Alina remembers a number of young girls who had the talent and the skills that would have taken them to the Olympics, but they gave up before making it that far. It was her love for the art that kept her going. Many of the girls who struggle to control their weight, usually have a problem with saying no to sweets. One girl describes candy as her true love.
It takes a lot of stamina and resilience to stay on top of their game; and often, hard work can take an athlete much further than natural talent can.
Margarita Mamun, 7 Times Rhythmic Gymnastics World Champion, reminisces on the many times she had to perform through the pain because there was no other way. She has been known to practice for up to 9 hours nonstop when preparing for a championship.
Nowadays Alina organizes rhythmic gymnastics festivals. These are occasions for young children who enjoy this sport to showcase their talents. Athletic ability is not a prerequisite for taking part in the event, though. However, it’s a wonderful way for young hopefuls to get noticed and they have the potential to kick-start a child’s career.
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