20-year old Eleonora Afanasyeva made everyone talk about her after the Russian Cup where she won gold on vault and bronze on floor.
Eleonor Afanasyeva (nee Goryunova) isn’t related to Ksenia Afanasyeva, however, she is related to another Russian gymnast – she is the younger sister of Kristina Goryunova, an alternate for the 2008 Olympic team.
Afanasyeva was as promising as her older sister but during puberty, she started having weight issues that eventually led her to quit gymnastics in 2014. She got married, had a baby (her daughter is now 2,5 years old), and then when her daughter started kindergarten, she decided it’s time to go back to the gym. She only returned to training in September 2016 and her progress in the past year has been astonishing. Before the Russian Cup, Afanasyeva trained at her home gym in Novgorod where equipment leaves to be desired and she was not invited to the national team training camps. At this time, Afanasyeva still doesn’t have a FIG license, however, she was invited to the Worlds selection camp that started on the 3rd of September. In an interview after the Russian Cup, Afanasyeva revealed she is training an Amanar (she currently competes a DTY) which would make her very useful on the national team. She already does it successfully in training but decided not to perform it at the Russian Cup. Before the break from gymnastics, her strongest events were beam and floor, however, after return, she realized she’s getting good on vault, while beam is more tricky for her. She’s still struggling on bars because she used to train without grips and is trying to re-learn the bars skills with grips now.
Here are some excerpts from two interviews she gave after the Russian Cup:
About whispering to herself before competing:
“I will say honestly: I am praying to God that everything goes smoothly and without injuries. I am doing all of this for my daughter, first of all. This always helps. I have a goal, something to strive for: I don’t really want to win for myself, but I have to work hard for my daughter. Otherwise, if I come home and she asks me “Mom, where are your medals?”, what would I tell her – “Sorry, I didn’t get any?”
Afanasyeva also plans to put her daughter in artistic gymnastics classes.
About beam and bars:
“Beam is such an apparatus – you’re kind of standing and next second you don’t. You have to work on it every day, repeat the elements 10-15 times just to be sure in them. Before, I felt the beam and was able to do it, metaphorically, with my eyes closed. Now, I guess, I’m better on vault. Bars are hard for me. I only recently started to use grips, before I trained with bare hands. But I’m still getting used to them, they’re a bit uncomfortable, I feel the bars differently. I’m almost used to them and my bars are getting better. At first, I could only do one element, but now I can connect several. I have to work harder. In order to do bars well, I’ll need to condition my abs, arms and the back.”
Afanasyeva also hopes that being able to train at the Round Lake and have access to the national team coaches and good equipment will lead to a great improvement on bars. She believes she also needs to improve her flexibility as right now she’s getting deductions for her leaps and turns.