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IG Interview: Veronica Wagner (Sweden)
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Ten years after her Olympic debut, Sweden's Veronica Wagner is back in pursuit of success as she prepares for the world championships in Nanning.

Wagner competed at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she earned the Swedish women's first Games berth in 20 years. She left elite competition prior to the 2012 London Games, where she worked as a gymnastics commentator for Swedish television.

At 27, Wagner now hopes to help Sweden place among the top 24 teams in Nanning and thereby advance to the 2015 Worlds in Glasgow. Twelve teams will eventually qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Wagner shared her latest competitive status, as well as her athletic and professional aspirations, in this IG Online interview.


IG: What motivated you to give Nanning a try, and how long have you been training at full strength?

VW: After two years of studying at university, with no elite training anyway, I felt that I missed my sport a lot - like crazy, actually. I talked to a club other than my old one in Stockholm, and after some weeks, I decided to give gymnastics another try. But I wanted to end that semester because my program at university is at least three years and I didn't want to quit in the middle of it.

So I started to train again in June. I thought worlds was going to come too fast for any event. I have not been training full-out at all. I have been training since June, but since I needed a lot of just getting used to the pounding and training volume, I'm still in a process. Step by step everything is getting easier. The hard part for me was not really the skills, except the dismount on beam. That's going to take a little extra muscle work. The hard part was and still is the amount of hours we need to get back to elite level.


Veronica Wagner (Sweden)

IG: Where are you in terms of your academic and broadcasting careers?

VW: I've had four terms of university studies, for physiotherapy. It's been a change because I have not really been studying like normal since I was 14 or 15! But it's been fun, and, if I could choose, I would train and study. This term, term five, is 100 percent presence, so I'm only taking one course online right now. I will train and see how that goes, but, of course, I will do my Bachelor's degree after gymnastics, and maybe, if I want to, I'll do a Master's afterwards.

As for my broadcasting, I think it's way harder than I thought, because I did all the men's competitions as well at the Olympics. I have just done little things here and there. At (2013) Europeans, when (teammate) Jonna (Adlerteg) took silver on bars, it was kind of hard; I cried at the ceremony! But if I'm not competing myself, I surely want to continue doing that, and I love it. I could for sure do that full-time, but that's not possible in Sweden... yet!

IG: Where are you training these days, and what is your schedule like?

VW: I'm living in Stockholm, but my club right now is Eskilstuna Gymnastics Academy, the same club as Emma Larsson, Jonna Adlerteg, Ida Gustafsson and Kim Singmuang. So our plan is that I will train in Stockholm with my old club two or three days a week, and drive to Eskilstuna, a 75-minute drive, and train two, three or four days there. Right now, in these last weeks before worlds, it's four days. I'm training with Helena Andersson and Sebastian Melander. We are now a great group of seniors training together. We are a very ambitious group so it hard work, but that's what elite is about, and that is what I need and want.

IG: What was the aim of your participation at the Novara Cup in Italy two weeks ago?

VW: I didn't compete; I just trained with my team and cheered them on. We had one test competition some weeks ago and I somehow hurt my heel pad on my mount on beam, a front pike. So we decided not to compete on it, and I took away some skills to be able to compete at the Swedish Cup, as well. It's better now, though, but it will take some time to heal up, and I'm using heel protection in training.

IG: What is the focus of your training between now and worlds?

VW: Actually I didn't do much for three weeks on it, so right now I'm back doing routines on beam, just to get the consistency back. I will have to focus on getting the numbers but still keep the heel OK. It's a balance. It's kind of hard because I was in good shape before I hurt it, but the hardest part is to be patient. In real gymnastics terms I need to focus on getting my quickness back, because you just can't do a double front from beam without extremely quick leg muscles. And I have been using power all of my gymnastics career, so wake up, Type 2 fibers!

IG: What are your expectations for Nanning?

VW: I see this as a first step. I'm not where I want to be yet but I'm getting back. But I want to help out on beam and vault so Sweden can be top 24. That's the main goal for all of us right now.

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Swedish gymnastics includes:

"Scouting Scandinavia" - IG's visit to Wagner's club in Stockholm (March 2011)
"Quick Chat: Veronica Wagner" (November 2008)
"Veronica's Date: 2008" - Wagner profile (February 2005)
"Swedish History-maker" - Jonna Adlerteg profile (November 2010)
"Swedish Upswing" – women's team feature including Adlerteg (November 2010)
"Swedish Achiever" - Ida Gustafsson short profile (June 3013)
"Sweden's Standout" - Mans Stenberg profile (March 2010)
"Swedish Sojourn" – Karolina Bohman profile (February 2003)
William Thoresson profile/Hall of Fame induction feature (August/September 2001)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

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