Maria Paseka gave an interview to Soviet Sport right after she landed in Moscow. The Russian gymnasts had a huge crowd and journalists meeting them at the airport. She talked about her attitude before the championships and what helped her to overcome her fears. She also said that she is getting her back checked again in a few days even though she’s already used to the pain and not sure it can be treated. She also joined Rodionenkos in listing some issues with the organization at these Worlds. She also talks about the telegram that she received from Putin congratulating her with the gold medal which she actually dedicated to the president as it was won on his birthday.
Q: Were you impressed with how you were greeted at the airport?
A: Yes, of course! Frankly, we didn’t even expect that so many people will be meeting us. We thought it’ll be a couple of cameras and that’s it.
Q: You’re holding a telegram from the president, right?
A: Yes, you’re right.
Q: What did Vladimir Vladimirovich write to you?
A: Honestly, I didn’t even have time to read it yet.
Q: You won the gold medal on his birthday and then congratulated him. Did you plan on doing it?
A: It all happened spontaneously. Of course, I knew that it was our president’s birthday, but I forgot about it during the competition because my focus was elsewhere. And then I was told: “Masha, do you remember about the president’s birthday?” and I was like “Oh yeah, right!”. So I congratulated him.
Q: Was this victory harder for you than the one two years ago? You were the defending champion.
A: Every victory is hard to achieve. The gold that I won two years ago was hard for me to get because there was a lot of hard work, it was a long road [to that medal]. With this victory, it was hard psychologically because the previous competitions – Euros and Universiade – weren’t successful for me and I was really scared of going to Montreal.
Q: How did you manage to overcome your fears?
A: I think that my competitive experience helped when I needed it.
Q: Did the coaches help you with their advice?
A: Absolutely, I was on the phone with my coaches every day, I talked to Marina Gennadyevna [Ulyankina] all the time. In addition, Evgeny Anatolyevich [Grebyonkin] was always by my side, he helped me, cheered me up. My parents and friends supported me, sent me messages.
Q: You’ve been riddled with injuries throughout your career. Did you manage to avoid them this time?
A: Right now only one injury bother me – my back hurts. But it’s such an old injury that I don’t pay much attention to it. Whether it hurts or doesn’t hurt – I don’t care.
Q: Will you try to take care of it?
A: I’m going for a check-up in a few days, then the doctors will decide what we’re going to do with it.
Q: There were a lot of complaints about the organizers of these Worlds. Particularly, there were a lot of injuries.
A: I can say that the organization wasn’t very good. Take the shuttle buses that drove us to the gym: they were supposed to come every 15 minutes, but, at the same time, the driver could arrive and say “I’m not going anywhere now, we’re leaving later”. Because of that, we had to leave the hotel way in advance so that we wouldn’t be late and also to sit for 40 minutes in the gym and wait for our warm up. They were reassembling the floor two times, there were issues with it. Our all-arounder girls were really worried because of it [the floor] since one American gymnast got injured during the warm-up right before going out to compete.
Q: The men also had injuries, including the ones on vault.
A: Thank God, we were lucky, everything was fine with this apparatus for us. We were also thinking about that, really, we were pretty scared.