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IG Online Interview: Mette Hulgaard (Denmark)
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Heading toward age 25 and her sixth world championships, Danish gymnastics team mainstay Mette Hulgaard told IG she is going strong with no retirement plans on her radar.

Heading toward age 25 and her sixth world championships, Danish gymnastics team mainstay Mette Hulgaard told IG she is going strong with no retirement plans on her radar.

Born Sept. 28, 1988, in Hvidovre, Hulgaard is coached by 1992 Hungarian Olympian Bernadett Balazs. She made her worlds debut when her country hosted the competition in Aarhus in 2006, and is slated to compete all-around at the 2013 worlds that will start on September 30 in Antwerp.

Hulgaard has represented Denmark at world, European and World Cup events for several years. She achieved her best World Cup result, eighth place on vault, at the 2008 World Cup of Szombathely, Hungary.

In 2012 Hulgaard placed 20th all-around at the Northern European championships in Glasgow. This spring she finished 42nd all-around in qualifications at the European championships in Moscow, and this summer she was 40th all-around in qualifications at the University Games in Kazan.

Hulgaard, a full-time university student, plans to earn her Bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy by 2016.

In the final stages of her preparations for Antwerp, Hulgaard shared with IG Online her perspectives on age, persistence and leadership.


IG: You have competed in the world championships several times. What are your goals and plans for Antwerp, and how will this worlds be different for you from the previous ones?


Mette Hulgaard (Denmark)

MH: I have been upgrading my routines so the first goal is to show them. Our federation has a special point-system so I hope I can get a point with my new upgraded routines.

IG: What keeps you motivated to continue your gymnastics career, after nearly a decade of international competition?

MH: My first worlds were in Aarhus in 2006, but I was also at the Europeans in Amsterdam 2004. I feel that I can learn more, not just new elements but also the mental part of the sport, especially for competitions. You can always do better.

IG: What is your field of study, and when will you finish your studies?

MH: I'm studying physiotherapy, and I hope I will finish my Bachelor’s degree in January 2016.

IG: The day before the opening ceremony in Antwerp, you will turn 25. How do you balance your gymnastics training with your living expenses, studies and work?

MH: I'm still living together with my mum. It's not possible for me to study about 30 hours a week, train 20 hours and have a job to earn money for living alone. I get a little money from the state/government because I'm studying, but I don't get anything for the gymnastics. Actually, I need to pay. As long as I like doing gymnastics, I think this way is the best for me.

IG: Is there anything you enjoy about gymnastics now that you did not enjoy or realize earlier in your career?

MH: I'm feeling more fit now than about three years ago, and it makes everything easier. I'm very proud of helping our upcoming girls. It's exciting when they learn something new, and it also keeps me working on new elements.

IG: How much longer would you like to continue in gymnastics?

MH: I don't know. I take one year at a time, and, as long as my body is OK, I can't see any reason to stop.

IG: You have strengthened the Danish team for several years. What do you think Denmark will need to improve as a team in international competitions?

MH: I think the young girls have to stay in gymnastics. We have had many good girls in Denmark, but they have stopped before it was possible for them to go to big competitions like Europeans. Artistic gymnastics is not big in Denmark. Many kids are doing gymnastics, but they do the Team Gym, because it's easier and the traditions are good in Denmark. I think the Danish mentality is not good enough. If you want something with this kind of gymnastics, you need to train many hours and many years before you see any results. You also need to put your heart and soul into it, and have a family that supports you.

IG: How has your relationship with your coach changed since you started training with her?

MH: Bernadett has taught me a lot. Not just new elements, but also how to train and try again, again and again. Training is training, and it's possible to make mistakes. After training with her I feel more confident, both with my elements and also with the routines. When we go to competitions, I know that I have done many good routines at home, so I don't have to be worried about that. When Bernadett tells us about her gymnastics and how many routines they did [during her days on the Hungarian team], you get the feeling that you can do one more.

IG: When do you think you will reach your potential?

MH: I have no idea. I have some elements that I have done before which I really want to get back in my routines. It just has to be very clean, because of the potentially big deductions.

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