Aliya Mustafina not training, unlikely for Tokyo 2020

By Patricia Duffy | February 29, 2020
Aliya Mustafina

Aliya Mustafina may have hung up her grips for the last time.

The two-time, reigning Olympic uneven bars gold medalist has shown no signs of returning to training after missing multiple domestic and international competitions last year, including the 2019 World Championships, due to an injury.

Mustafina, 25, told the Olympic Channel in August that she was taking some time off from training to recover, saying, “At the moment, I choose to find myself physically, mentally, to rest a little. I want to start my way to Tokyo with a brand new energy.”

The gymnast was dealing with a serious calf rupture and expressed how she was upset that she couldn’t compete at the time since she was in “really good shape.”

Fast forward to the present, and Valentina Rodionenko, senior coach of the Russian team, recently told Russian news outlet TASS that Mustafina was supposed to start training again in January but still hasn’t returned.

According to Gymnovosti, Rodionenko said:

“She’s not training but there are five months till the Olympics. She used to have motivation. She said to us back in December that from the first of January [she would start training], but the first of March is around the corner and she hasn’t showed up and we can’t force her. She has weight issues, so it’s obvious she can’t lose the excessive [weight]. I, our specialists, and the coaching staff have not seen such precedents yet that a person would have so much extra weight and would get back to normal in those months and compete at the Olympics. Our team would not be worth a dime if an unprepared person who has not competed anywhere, if we put them on the team. What would we say to the others, the ones that are preparing and competing? There’s also the competitive selection, it’s not for nothing, and there will only be four people on the team at the Games. The [Russian] Championships will put everything in its place, then the Euros, and we’ll go from that.”

Whether Mustafina has plans to compete again or is quietly heading for retirement remains to be seen. The gymnast has already enjoyed a decorated career, including seven Olympic medals. She is currently tied with Svetlana Khorkina for the most Olympic medals won by a Russian gymnast (not including Soviets).

She last competed at a World Championships in 2018, where she was a key contributor to the Russian team’s silver medal.

Personally, Mustafina gave birth to a baby girl named Alisa in June of 2017. She now spends most of her free time with her daughter.

Watch her 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning performances below.