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Dzyundzyak's Destiny: Olympian, Artist, Coach
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Now a Cirque du Soleil artist, 1996 Olympian Anastasia Dzyundzyak of Uzbekistan told IG she remains passionate about gymnastics and hopes to coach in the future.

Now a Cirque du Soleil artist in Macau, 1996 Olympian Anastasia Dzyundzyak of Uzbekistan told IG she remains passionate about gymnastics and hopes to coach in the future.

"I really follow gymnastics, and when it's possible I go to competitions or watch gymnastics on television," Dzyundzyak said. "Until Cirque du Soleil, I taught beginning gymnastics to boys in Russia. In the future I certainly plan to continue a coaching career. I really enjoy working with children. Every time I go to Russia I run training, and every time the parents ask me when I will return."

Dzyundzyak competes on floor exercise at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Dzyundzyak represented Uzbekistan at the 1995 and 1997 World Championships, and was an all-around finalist at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Now 31, she performs in the Trampoline and Double Teeterboard (X-Board) act at Zaia, Cirque du Soleil's first permanently based Asian show.

Dzyundzyak said she continues to be impressed by former teammate Oksana Chusovitina. Now competing for Germany, the 34-year-old Chusovitina has competed in five Olympic Games. She won two medals at the recent Stars of the World, a World Cup meet held May 14-16 in Moscow.

"Oksana is now a very busy person, but when possible we catch up on the phone or the Internet," Dzyundzyak said. "I think she is strong and perseverant. She goes her own way. Simply in a word, she is excellent. I admire her."

Dzyundzyak said she also admires the coaches and mentors who have guided her competitive and professional careers. She reached the international level under coach Svetlana Kuznetsova. Prior to that she trained under coach Svetlana Buylova in her native Andizhan.

Dzyundzyak also credits Dmitry Berezner and Alexei Kuzin, coaches at the Athena club in Moscow who helped her begin her own coaching career when she moved to Moscow seven years ago and began working with young gymnasts.

"I arrived alone in Moscow, and I had nobody," she said. "In general there were hard times, and [Kuzin] got me on my feet. He still helps me and gives me advice."

Although Dzyundzyak is dedicated to her work in Zaia, she is planning her future beyond performance. She said she wants to continue her studies and become a gymnastics coach.

"I want to work in Russia, because now my family is already there, and there is really more opportunity," Dzyundzyak told IG. "Now I work as an artist, and then I shall certainly train children. I enjoy working more with boys, and even if the results are not that big."

Click here to watch a video of Dzyundzyak on balance beam at the 1997 World Championships in Lausanne, where she performed her trademark mount of front headspring to tuck front.

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