Smooth, controlled and elegant.
When you hear that description, it makes you want to slip your hands into your finest leather gloves, and with rising adrenaline, get ready to drive one of the finest automotive driving machines from Europe.
If you watched the women’s gymnastics finals in Rio you saw one fine, smooth, controlled and elegant European performance, driven by powerful adrenaline that captured the world’s attention.
No leather gloves required.
Russia’s Aliya Mustafina won the gold medal in the women’s uneven bars event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
American super star Madison Kocian from the Dallas area, finished just behind her and earned the silver, while Sophie Scheder of Germany seized the bronze.
It was an Olympics where Aliya reigned supreme.
Ms. Mustafina added three medals from the Rio Olympics to her trophy case of Olympic treasures and family heirlooms from the Olympics in London as well, finishing with seven total Olympic medals.
The Russian beauty is the second woman to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals on uneven bars. The first was Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina, a gymnast, who won in 1996 and 2000.
With all of her achievements, some have questioned the personality of the beautiful young woman of steel who can leap tall uneven bars in a single bound.
She’s been described as a perfectionist, sometimes not so forgiving of other teammate’s imperfections.
As shared by nbcolympics.com, “Aliya Mustafina has been a stalwart for the Russian women’s gymnastics program since her first all-around and team victories at the 2010 World Championships. From a teenager with four Olympic medals in London to a team captain with a silver and a bronze (so far) in Rio, Mustafina has earned a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors in the sport of gymnastics.
Mustafina also began building her reputation as a steely competitor that year. While she’s now a proven leader of the Russian women and is the first to hug her teammates whether they’re celebrating or crying, she wasn’t so forgiving in 2010. After her teammates made mistakes in the qualification round, she told the press, “We made some mistakes on elements that seemed to be going well and reliably in practice. I’m not talking about myself. I did everything OK. I’m not going to name names, because the girls themselves know and understand.”
How do you say ouch in Russian?
And to think, with the threat looming before the Olympics of a total Olympic ban on all Russian athletes, we almost didn’t see one of the finest performances in women’s Gymnastics history.
It’s time to view Aliya’s own brilliant history.
Aliya Fargatovna Mustafina is her full name.
She is the 2010 World individual all-around champion, the 2015 European Games individual all-around and uneven bars champion, and the 2013 Universiade individual all-around and uneven bars champion. She is also the 2012 Olympic uneven bars champion, and individual all-around and floor bronze medalist, the 2013 World balance beam champion, the 2013 European champion in the all-around and on the uneven bars and 2016 European champion on the balance beam.
Ms. Mustafina represented Russia at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she was the most decorated gymnast, male or female, having won four medals including the silver in the team all-around, the bronze in the individual all-around final, the gold in the uneven bars final, and the bronze in the floor final.
Competing at a global elite level is in her blood. Aliya was born into a middle-class Muslim family in Yegoryevsk, Russia. Her father, Farhat Mustafin, an ethnic Tatar, was a bronze medalist at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Who are the Tatar’s you ask?
According to encyclopedia.com, “There are many Turkic-speaking ethnic groups living throughout the Russian Federation. These diverse groups lie scattered from the Caucasus and Ural mountains to eastern Siberia, and include the Tatars, Chuvash, Bashkirs, Sakha, Tuvans, Karachai, Khakass, Altays, and others. This article focuses on the largest Turkic group in the Russian Federation, the Tatars.
Historically, the Tatars lived farther west than any other Turkic nationality.
After Russians and Ukrainians, the Tatars are the most populous ethnic group in the Russian Federation.
When the Russian Empire collapsed in 1917, the Tatars took advantage of the chaos and immediately formed their own home-land, the Idil-Ural State.
In the 1920s, most Tatar leaders and intellectuals who wanted independence were eliminated through execution or exile. This policy against the Tatars continued to some extent until the early 1950s. Tatar culture was also affected until the 1970s through the policy of Russification, where the Russian language and culture were legally forced on the Tatars and other ethnic groups. During the Soviet era, economic hardship and job preference given to Russians in industrial areas caused many Tatars to leave their homeland.”
Interesting. As they say, everyone has a story and by many comparisons, Aliya’s people have suffered some very strong hardships.
Aliya was born September 30, 1994 in Yegoryevsk.
Why don’t briefly visit the community that influenced her phenomenal growth.
The population was 70,081 at the 2010 Census.
The city of Yegoryevsk was formed in 1778 from the village of Vysokoye and became an important trading center, especially for grain and cattle.
Browsing the fantastic travel and review site Trip Advisor, you can eat some great pizza at a restaurant called Oliva’s.
We’ll try and remember that.
Fortunately Aliya appears to have a very bright future and a more people friendly one.
When you watch her videos as the captain of the Russian team in Rio, she is the first to give her teammates hugs and words of encouragement. When a language barrier stands in the way of giving foreign athletes a compliment, she can be seen displaying a thumbs up and smile.
Good for Aliya.
A smooth, controlled and elegant machine aside, internal change springs eternal and the world is loving what they see.
In an important interview with rewritingrussiangymnastics.blogspot.com, when asked if she will leave gymnastics with any regrets, she replied, “I do not think I will be bored without gymnastics. I have had a good career, with nothing to complain about, and I certainly haven’t been unlucky.”
~ ~ ~
Sources: brainyquote.com, Wikipedia, fciwomenswrestling2.com, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.