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Austria's Mader Ready To Raise The Bar in 2017
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Austrian veteran Jasmin Mader told IG that her successes at the national and international levels late in the year remind her why she continues her lengthy career.

Although veteran Austrian gymnast Jasmin Mader did not qualify for last summer's Olympic Games in Rio, she told IG that her successes at the national and international levels late in the year remind her why she continues her lengthy career.

"It wasn't that hard for me to have such a long competition year," said Mader, who won her first Austrian senior national all-around title on Nov. 5 and teamed with partner Daniel Kopeinik to finish third at the Brno Grand Prix, a mixed-pairs meet, held Nov. 26 in Czech Republic. "I'm feeling like I'm enjoying doing gymnastics more and more every day. That's why it's really fun for me to prepare for all those great competitions, and that's also why the results are quite good."

Mader, who turned 24 on Dec. 26, said competing at the Olympic test event last April in Rio de Janeiro was a dream come true, even if she did not qualify from it for last summer's Games. Mader hurriedly traveled to the test event to replace teammate Elisa Hämmerle, who injured an Achilles' tendon. Lisa Ecker, the other Austrian woman to compete at the test event, went on to qualify for the Games.

"As you know, it was a surprise for me to take part in the test event," Mader said. "One day before the competition I was lying in my bed at home in Austria, and I was thinking about the test event and how awesome it would be to take part and be in Rio for just once. I was shocked when I got the phone call and they told me that Elisa was injured. A few hours later I was on the plane to Rio."

Mader said she returned from the test event with valuable experience and new inspiration.

"I expected that the competition would be tough, but I decided to take that chance and try to do the best I could," she said. "In the end I didn't qualify, but it was OK for me. I mean, 24 hours before, it was just a wish from me to be in Rio. After my weekend trip to Rio I was motivated to work hard for all my further goals. I learned a lot in those few days. It is always a really small gap between a dream and a nightmare."

Mader's all-around victory at the 2016 Austrian Championships reflected the versatility that previously earned her at least one Austrian national title on each of the four apparatuses. She placed first on vault in 2009, 2011 and 2012; first on uneven bars in 2011, 2014 and 2015; first on balance beam in 2014; and first on floor exercise in 2009.

For 2017, Mader wants to modify and fortify her program.

"I need to arrange my routines to the new Code of Points," she said. "But my focus is on my uneven bars routine, in which I'd like to add a little more difficulty."

Among Mader's main competitive aims for 2017 are April's European Championships in Cluj, Romania, and August's University Games in Taipei.

"It is a long-term target for me to qualify for the all-around final at Europeans," she said. "Hopefully I can achieve it this year. If I get the chance to participate in the Universiade, it would be my first Universiade. That's why this would be a really special competition for me. But I'm also looking forward to all the other competitions. I want to show my best in every single one of them."

With several years of achievements behind her, Mader appreciates the hardy physical condition that has contributed to her long-term enthusiasm.

"The most important thing for me is that I'm healthy," Mader said. "That means that I have the chance to continue doing what I love most. It is so much fun for me to practice and compete in this sport, and I have a few targets left for the last years of my gymnastics career."

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