Valentina Rodionenko speaks ahead of World Championships

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Russian Coach Valentina Rodionenko speaks about the Russians in the run up to the 2011 World Championships next month. The following interview is  By Grigoriy Gureyev for RIA-sport. This interview was posted on the Russian Gymnastics Federations website.

– How is Aliya Mustafina’s recovery progressing?
Aliya Mustafina will not recover in time for world championships. We do not
want to risk hurting her. If her injury comes back, or something else happens,
we might not see her at the Olympics in London. But we will be fighting for
medals anyway, since we have good replacements with the other girls. Both
Viktoriya Komova, the three-time 2010 Youth Olympic Champion, and Anna
Dementyeva, the European Champion, can fight for gold medals.
— Which other girls are you counting on?
Kseniya Afanasyeva and Yuliya Byelokobylskaya. This year, girls born in 1995
will be competing on the podium for the first time and I think the youth have
even better prospects.
— Do you think we are strong enough to repeat the success of last year’s world
championships in Rotterdam?
Yes, we will fight for gold this time, too, and I think we are strong enough
to win it.
— How is preparation in the national team progressing?
We have training camps all year around at the state training facility Round
Lake. Sometimes we travel away, for example we held the Russian Cup in
Yekaterinburg. On 15 September in Penza, the Sixth Memorial in rhythmic group exercises in
honour of Yanina Zatuliveter will be held.
— Are meets in Russia helpful in the preparation process?
These competitions give the athletes experience like no others. There is a
certain level of adrenalin there. Of course, they are not meets of the highest
level, but they give results. And competition within the Russian team is
growing. The younger guys are pulling up and we see gymnasts like Maksim
Devyatovskiy not making the team.
— Is the construction of buildings under the Federal plan to develop physical
culture and sport from 2006 to 2015 helping to build our artistic gymnastics
teams?
Yes, of course it is. There are more gyms now and they are very well equipped.
We have no problem in that area at all, things have changed significantly for
the better over recent years. But we still do not have enough high-quality
specialists. If you recall the Soviet era, our coaches coached future
champions in small gyms. And now, given that facilities are constantly
improving, we could achieve the very best results possible if we had the
qualified specialists. There is hope that things will get better in that area
soon.

So Rodionenko thinks that the Russians can win the gold again this year (but knows that it will be a fight). Do you think that Russia can win gold without Mustafina and with  Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yulia Belokobylskaya, Anna Dementyeva, Yulia Inshina, Victoria Komova, Tatiana Nabieva, Maria Paseka and Alena Polyan as their team?

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