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Interview: Kristina Pravdina (Azerbaijan)
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A world championships and World Cup medalist for Russia earlier in her career, Kristina Pravdina is preparing for her debut performance for Azerbaijan later this month. Pictured: Marina Nekrasova, Anzhela Abdullayeva, Pravdina and Maria Smirnova

A world championships and World Cup medalist for Russia earlier in her career, Kristina Pravdina is preparing for her debut performance for Azerbaijan later this month.

Pravdina (left) in Baku with teammates Marina Nekrasova and Maria Smirnova

Pravdina, a native of Voronezh, was a mainstay on last decade's Russian team. Among her biggest accomplishments, she won a team silver medal and finished 24th all-around at the 2006 world championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

In qualifications at the 2007 worlds in Stuttgart, Pravdina placed 16th all-around, but was unable to advance to the all-around final. She was third among Russia's all-arounders, and therefore could not advance because of the two-gymnasts-per-country maximum. In the team final, Russia dropped from a probable medal to eighth place when a teammate balked on her vault in the last rotation and scored zero.

Pravdina's other best international results included the bronze medal on uneven bars at the 2006 World Cup of Shanghai; fifth place on balance beam and seventh place on uneven bars at the 2006 World Cup of Lyon; seventh place (tie) all-around and sixth place on balance beam at the 2007 European championships in Amsterdam.

In Russian domestic competitions, Pravdina was third all-around at the 2007 Russian championships; second on floor exercise at the 2007 Russian Cup; seventh all-around, second (tie) on floor exercise and third on uneven bars at the 2008 Russian Cup; and eighth all-around at the 2009 Russian Cup.

Pravdina, who will turn 24 on Dec. 28, shared details of the new phase of her career in this IG Online interview.

IG: When and why did you decide to return to competition, and for Azerbaijan?

KP: As you know, the first European Games will take place in Baku (in June 2015). Among the 20 sports will be gymnastics. At the end of 2013 the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation coordinated a women's gymnastics team. My parents received the invitation to work in Baku, and I, based on family circumstances, moved with them. Then they offered for me to join the team of this country. I felt I could help and consequently agreed.

Pravdina at the 2006 World Championships

IG: When did you return to training, and who is coaching you?

KP: I got back into training in September. My father, Alexander Pravdin, and my mother, Nina Pravdina, who previously was my coach-choreographer, are coaching me.

IG: How much support are you getting from your former Voronezh teammates, Yulia Inshina and Marina Nekrasova, who are also competing for Azerbaijan?

KP: Seeing how we previously performed in the same team for the Voronezh gymnastics school named for Yuri Eduardovich Shtukman, we have developed very friendly relationships. We support each other and get along well, both in sports and in life.

IG: What's on your agenda, competition-wise?

KP: My next start will be Nov. 28 to 30 in Stuttgart, Germany (DTB Cup – Team Challenge). We plan to compete on two apparatuses - uneven bars and beam - with the kind of program that I will have time to restore.

IG: What is the most difficult aspect of your return? Is it something physical, or a combination of things?

KP: The most difficult thing was the first week of training, to force myself to continue when all of my muscles hurt. And at the moment it is a combination of intellectual and physical workloads after a long break.

IG: What do you wish to prove in this new phase of your career?

KP: I would like to put together competitively capable routines, with which it will be possible to compete for medals.

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