Valentina Rodionenko told R-Sport that Aliya Mustafina might return to competition already at the Russian Championships which will take place in April 2018.
The original plan was for Mustafina to prepare for the Euros in August 2018, however, according to Rodionenko, training is going well and Aliya wants to return earlier. It’s hard to say how realistic are those expectations – Rodionenko notoriously stated multiple times that Komova would compete in August, while Komova and her coach continued to say she won’t return until December. On the other hand, Mustafina is known for her ability to get back in shape really fast. For instance, she returned to competition in early 2016, only a few months after having a knee surgery in the fall of 2015. She also said in multiple interviews that she really likes to compete and competitions motivate her, so setting the goal for an early return might be her way to motivate herself.
“Aliya’s training is going great. We set goals. I think that she’ll be ready to compete at the Russian Championships in April. Maybe even in all-around, but for now, we only talked about two apparatuses – beam and bars. First, we thought she’d return only in August, but since she’s getting back in shape really successfully, we think this is what’s going to happen”.
Last week Rodionenko also talked to TASS about Mustafina’s first days of training back at the Round Lake. She said that they wouldn’t discuss any specific competition goals till a couple of weeks pass, but it’s Valentina Rodionenko whose answers can change depending on the time of the day, so, of course, she’s already making competition plans after Mustafina’s first week back in the gym.
Here’s what Rodionenko said after Aliya’s first two days back at the Round Lake:
“Aliya already had two training sessions, she’s in good shape. Of course, her muscles lost some tone, at the moment she’s working on getting their functionality back and she’s trying to get back on the apparatuses. It’s not easy, but she has a very strong character. She’s working with such perseverance, such desire that I have never seen in her throughout her career, and it’s worth a lot”.
For now, Mustafina prefers to train alone:
“She knows what she wants and she’s doing everything by herself, the coach is only checking in on her sometimes. Aliya wants to increase the training load but we think she shouldn’t hurry, she has to train from scratch, her palms are callus-free now. We’re not talking about any plans yet, a couple of weeks should pass before that.”