Though her star is rising after her dominant performance in qualification at the worlds in Rotterdam, Russia's Aliya Mustafina is quick to point out that she hasn't won any world titles yet.
"There's nothing to congratulate me for," Mustafina said in Rotterdam.
Russia's Aliya Mustafina during podium training in Rotterdam.
On Saturday, Mustafina led her Russian team to first place in the team qualification. Individually she qualified first to the all-around final, and became the first gymnast in 13 years to qualify for all four finals at a world championships.
In the team qualification, Russia topped 2008 Olympic champion China and the defending world champion U.S. team. The three teams are all contenders to win the gold medal during Wednesday's team competition, where eight teams will fight for medals.
"We won the team qualification, but there's no medal for that," Mustafina told Russian news agency "All Sport." "And more to the point, everything starts from scratch in the final. All eight teams start from zero. The only value of this 'win' is for our morale. We saw and understood that we can beat the Chinese and the Americans."
The Russian gymnasts were proud they took first in qualification despite some mistakes, including falls on uneven bars and floor exercise, she said.
"We made some mistakes on elements that seemed to be going well and reliably in practice," said Mustafina, who turned 16 in September. "I'm not talking about myself. I did everything OK. I'm not going to name names, because the girls themselves know and understand. It is important that we can and should perform better. In the final our opponent will be sharper too."
Alexander Alexandrov, head coach of the Russian women and personal coach to Mustafina, said Russia was thrilled it qualified the most gymnasts of any team to individual finals.
"We've proved that Russian gymnastics is starting to rise," he said. "The Soviet tradition, which always set the tone in this sport, is being revived. At recent world championships, nobody talked about first place [for Russia]. And now everyone is talking about our gymnasts, who are making themselves known loud and clear."
In Wednesday's team final, Mustafina is scheduled to compete all four events for Russia. Anna Dementyeva, another first-year senior and qualifier to the beam final, will compete three. (Download Start List.)
"The girls' mood is good, feisty, because the main fight lies ahead," Alexandrov said. "In the the team final, only three gymnasts will go [on each event]. And all scores will count. You can't fall or make a mistake. Whoever has the strongest nerves will be the winner."
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