|Scheduled to return to Germany on Sunday, world champion Aliya Mustafina is recovering well from April knee surgery but still targeting 2012, a Russian team coach said Wednesday.
World champion Aliya Mustafina is recovering well from April knee surgery, but she will not be rushed back before she's ready, a Russian team coach said Wednesday.
Mustafina, who suffered a torn ACL during the European championships in Berlin, is scheduled to return to Germany on Sunday for a follow-up with her surgeon. She underwent surgery April 13 at a clinic outside Munich, five days after injuring her knee landing a 2 1/2-twisting Yurchenko.
National coach Valentina Rodionenko said Mustafina is healing normally and doing conditioning on her upper body.
"She had a consultation with one of the leading injury specialists in Russia," Rodionenko told a Russian news agency. "He said that everything is going well."
At the 2010 World Championships, Mustafina led the Russian team to its first-ever world title. She won the gold medal in the all-around and individual silvers in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise final. She easily won the qualification round at the European championships before being injured in the all-around final.
While it's conceivable Mustafina could recover in time to do uneven bars at this fall's world championships, Rodionenko reiterated the team's position that the 16-year-old star is focused on 2012. It will be much more difficult for Russia to defend its world title without her, but the team should comfortably qualify to the Olympic Games next summer regardless.
"[We] are not going to force things," she said. "Her treatment must go as is. We have decided to trust in the advice of the expert who operated on her in Munich. We will follow through. And only when we are told that she can proceed with training will we go forward. It's important to save her for the Olympic Games."
The FIG World Cup series continues this weekend with the Moscow Stars, an individual apparatus competition. Russian world team member Tatiana Nabiyeva has scratched the event and will be replaced on uneven bars by Yekaterina Kurbatova, who was already in the vault lineup.
"[Kurbatova] is not in the ideal athletic condition, but I think she should compete OK," Rodionenko said.
Russia is expected to dominate the women's competition in Moscow after the Romanian team withdrew last week.
External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation