Dmitry Zanin from Match TV filmed a special about Viktoria Komova’s comeback. The filming was done during Komova’s first training camp after the injury.
The original video can be found on the Match TV website, however, it is geoblocked for Russia. This is the video uploaded on a private youtube channel – let’s hope it won’t get taken down for the sake of the gymternet.
Below is the recap of the video. When the quotes are translated and not summarized, they’re in the quotation marks. Even if you don’t speak Russian, I suggest you watch the video, because there are some interesting shots of the Round Lake and of the gymnasts training. You can even glimpse Maria Kharenkova who also returned to the Round Lake for the first time after her injury (but, unlike with Komova, no media outlets care about Kharenkova’s comeback, unfortunately).
The video starts at the Paveletski train station in Moscow where Komova arrives from Voronezh. Maria Paseka is meeting her and driving her to the Round Lake.
In the car, Vika talks about how everything seems different in Moscow, both from how she remembers it and from her life in Voronezh. She feels like her life is completely different now and getting back to the Round Lake for her means starting from scratch again.
The car drives into the Round Lake. Vika meets one of the staff (not sure who that was) who says she missed Vika a lot and that she looks very good.
Vika tells that after the injury she felt sort of bitter about her gymnastics career and she didn’t want to come back to the Round Lake but now she’s found new strength. She really wants to train and to compete again.
Narrator (Dmitry Zanin) says that Komova hasn’t visited the Round Lake in a year. Now, at 22, she came back to fulfill her dream which she has once been so close to – to win the Olympic gold.
Komova says she’s been invited to the week-long training camp and after this week she’ll be told whether she can stay on the national team. When asked whether she thinks she’s needed on the team, she says yes.
The video then shows baby Vika learning to walk on the beam. Her mom is a World champion from 1986 and a coach, so Vika grew up in the gym. She joined the national team and started training at the Round Lake at age 10. At 15 she competed at the Youth Olympics and won 3 gold medals there.
Elfimov, her coach, says that Komova’s level was beyond reach, that she learned “all the gymnastics” and was able to do things that other gymnasts now can’t do.
Komova says that things were easy for her back then and that she didn’t see any elements as undoable, her coach could teach her anything.
Then, the video shows Vika at her first Worlds and tells how Komova was the favorite to win and lost only by 0.033. The narrator then says that the judging was unfair and that the judges wanted the US to win the medal. I was going to write “implies” first, but then he straightforward said that what the judges did to Komova was “immoral”, so… nice objective journalistic work, you guys.
Elfimov, when asked about this loss, says that he felt that Vika was just a tiny bit not ready and he thinks that it was his fault as a coach that he wasn’t able to completely prepare her.
The narrator then describes Komova as the “little miracle from Voronezh, a nice weightless creature who was done wrong by the judges”. He goes on about how Komova became way more popular than Wieber because the fans knew who was the real winner. He says that Vika went to the Olympics to seek justice and revenge and she knew that she can’t allow making mistakes.
Elfimov says that, at the Olympics, Komova gave a chance to put her in the second place with her mistake on the vault and “they” (doesn’t specify whether “they” are Gabby or the judges) took this chance. Vika, commenting on her vault, says that she “ran away from her gold medal”.
Then, the narrator says that Komova performed great on the other three apparatuses and that when the floor score was announced: “the whole world was in insufferable pain watching the tears of the kid who has lost the gold medal the second year in a row”.
Vika says she was really mad at the results. She even wanted to retire from gymnastics because she felt like she was just a tiny step away from the gold medal, for which she worked her whole life, and it was really hard to process.
The narrator tells how Vika went through puberty at 17 and she had a hard time adjusting to her new height and weight, especially on bars. He says that she then had three surgeries on her leg and a lasting sinusitis (she actually had meningitis, not sinusitis). She hasn’t competed for almost three years.
Vika on her back pain: “The pain that radiated to my leg was so strong that it was really hard to even get up from the bed in the morning”.
The narrator says that, in 2015, Vika managed to pull herself together for a while, but she was taking handfuls of painkillers to be able to train and compete. Sometimes the pain lessened, though, and the doctors couldn’t find what was wrong with her.
Komova describes the moment when she became really afraid for her health: “This was during a floor routine, I was starting a tumbling pass and I stopped because my back got sort of stuck and I just couldn’t move for a while”. She realized that the Olympics are around the corner but she’s absolutely not ready and she can’t go to Rio and embarrass herself by competing weak routines. She then talked to her coach explaining how she can’t really train – at that time she was sometimes training for a day and having to rest for a week – and they decided it’s better for her to stop the preparations for Rio. She went to Munich where she was finally diagnosed with a stress fracture of the fifth vertebra (she doesn’t say which vertebra but I think she means the 5th lumbar vertebra).
She then spent 8 months at home in Voronezh without training. She was really bored at first and called all her friends all the time asking to hang out. She ended up getting new friends and things to do, but she still misses competing and feels that she’s still young and now healthy, so she is able to keep competing.
Coming back to the gym was really hard. Her back didn’t bother her anymore, but she was very sore from the training. Some easy things became hard for her, she couldn’t hang from the bars and she got dizzy doing roll-outs. She thinks these challenges added motivation because she got pissed at not being able to do simple things and did them over and over again until she was able to do it again. She had to lose weight, start running and conditioning a lot. She was first training with her father because Elfimov was at the Round Lake at the moment. They filmed the elements she did and send the videos to Elfimov.
The video then shows Vika coming to the Round Lake and calling Rodionenko to tell that she arrived. During the call, she, for some reason, calls him “Anatoliy” even though his name is Andrey. Then the video shows their meeting at his office. Then Vika is shown sitting with Valentina who says that her comeback is only in Vika’s hands. Then, after complimenting Vika on how she looks, Valentina and Andrey start asking her whether she lost all the weight she should have and how much more she needs to lose. She answers that she needs to lose another kilo and Valentina responds that it’s nothing.
Komova is then shown at the gym. She’s currently training with the junior team (with the youngest girls who are around 12. Older juniors train with the senior team, usually). The first training starts at 8 which is usually earlier than the senior team starts.
Elfimov is coaching her at the Round Lake. He says that whether Komova can manage to come back or not, he feels like he has to help her on this journey. He plans on taking this comeback very slowly because Vika has grown taller and heavier and she needs time to adjust to her new body.
Vika says that she didn’t come to the Round Lake to surprise anyone. She came to train and to show her current progress so that the team administration would invite her to further training camps. After working on tumbling with the junior team Vika then goes to the senior team’s gym to train on bars. She says that she kind of ignored the seniors who were already there simply because she was shy and embarrassed that everyone was looking at her.
The narrator says that Vika understands that not every gymnast on the national team is happy for her to come back. There were 16 gymnasts at the gym when she walked in and they all compete with each other to be chosen to represent the country. For some reason, both the narrator and Vika talk about 5 spots on the team, even though both next Worlds and next Olympics have only 4 spots (or 6 for Tokyo if you count the specialist spots).
Seda and Dasha say that in the gym everyone competes against each other, even though they may be friends outside the gym.
The narrator says “at least, on camera, the girls were supporting Vika”, sort of implying that they wouldn’t be so supportive off-camera.
Seda, Dasha, and Gelya express support for Vika. Gelya says Vika is very strong mentally.
It was hard for Vika to return to doing two training sessions per day at the Round Lake. She is also frequently frustrated when she can’t do some skill. We hear her saying to Bulgakova (her other coach) “I’m all crooked on that element” and walking off in frustration.
Vika says that, during conditioning, she is mostly focusing on strengthening her arms, back and core – both to prevent the back pain and to prepare for competing bars. She says her arms are very weak right now because she gained weight and this affects her ability to do bars.
After the training, Vika has a massage and she reads aloud some support messages from her fans.
According to the narrator, evenings are very lonely at the Round Lake. Vika says that everyone is so tired after the training they all stay in their rooms and don’t hang out together. To Vika, the atmosphere is very depressing and she feels very lonely and misses real (not online) conversations with people. Her friends in Voronezh were worried about her comeback and asked her whether she’s sure she wants it and can do it. She is sure.
On the sixth day of the training camp, Vika is showing off her hand calluses from bars and a cut on her foot. She is going home in the afternoon because the training camp is over.
Bulgakova encourages Vika to work hard for the last few hours. Bulgakova says that Vika has shown good progress, she has already restored many of her skills.
On bars, Vika is doing 3-4 elements in a row now, but, the narrator says, she needs to be able to do 8-10 elements. On floor, she is doing her choreo from London and basic leaps and tumbling. Vika says that she’s ready to compete mentally but not yet ready physically. She is invited to return to the Round Lake on 28/05, this time for three weeks.
Elfimov says the most important thing is that Komova wants to return really hard and they need to use this motivation in the training. Elfimov’s plan is for Komova to start training full routines on all four apparatuses by Septemeber and to compete at the Voronin’s Cup in December.
Komova’s tattoo says “Fight till the end”, this is her motto.