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Koval: Ukraine Cranking Back Toward Top 8
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Despite her team's 12th-place finish at last month's world championships in Rotterdam, Anastasia Koval of Ukraine told IG on Tuesday that more difficulty and confidence could produce a top-eight finish at the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo.


Anastasia Koval (Ukraine)

"We need for everyone to make their programs more difficult and certainly to do them stably," Koval said. "In a team, there should be confidence that all of us will make it!"

Ukraine's team in Rotterdam was weakened after Angelina Kislaya suffered a torn ACL in podium training. Also absent due to injury was Natalia Kononenko, who won the bronze medal on uneven bars at the 2010 European Championships.

Koval said she offered encouragement to her teammates after their mediocre performance in Rotterdam, which served as the first step toward qualification for the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I told the girls that simply the main thing is not to despair, and to go forward," said Koval, who placed fifth on uneven bars at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "There are always rises and falls. It is necessary to not stop and move simply further, forward, to the best result! And all will be well. If a person has a goal, it's necessary to reach for it — certainly if you want it."

The top 24 teams in Rotterdam have advanced to Tokyo, where the top eight teams will earn berths to London. Four additional teams will earn Olympic berths at a competition to be held in early 2012.

Koval said she was frustrated by her results in Rotterdam, which were hampered by an injury to her left shoulder from which she has not fully recovered.

"It is certainly insulting that I performed badly, but I am very glad that I could come back," said Koval, who will turn 18 on Saturday. "There was simply no time for the program to turn out well. It is necessary to make my routines more difficult and prepare for Tokyo."

Koval, who placed fifth with partner Nikolai Kuksenkov at the Swiss Cup mixed-pair competition on Sunday, said she is eager to return to top form in 2011.

"It is necessary to make good Start Values on all the events, and do all my routines with confidence," she told IG. "I hope that for the next year I will have time to restore my combination on bars!"

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