Varinska on COVID-19: ‘A Reboot is Taking Place’

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Ukrainian team star Diana Varinska told International Gymnast that, although the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been frustrating, she is finding a way to focus and encouraging other athletes to also profit from the delay.

“At the moment, I do not know how to strengthen my program,” said Varinska, who earned a berth to Tokyo through her performance at last fall’s World Championships in Stuttgart, where she finished 15th all-around. “To begin with, there is work to restore your program in good shape. I think that you need to correctly take advantage of the extra year to prepare for Tokyo, and try to prepare yourself for the Olympic Games as best as possible.”

Like athletes everywhere, Varinska was initially dismayed by the Games’ postponement to July 2021.

“I was upset, as the season had already begun and I tried to get in good shape for Tokyo,” said Varinska, who won gold on uneven bars at the World Cup of Brisbane in February. “And then, at one point, everything stopped. Such a long time without a gym greatly disrupts the workflow and all the work done.”

Varinska at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany

Varinska, who turned 19 on March 22, has come to terms with the training halt as well as the ingenuity needed to cope with confinement.

“The first week of quarantine, I did not do anything,” said Varinska, who lives in Kiev. “I just had a rest, took walks in the woods and slept. Now I try to keep myself fit, with options such as running and various exercises for all muscle groups that home conditions allow. In fact, it is very difficult to keep myself in shape at home, without gymnastics apparatus, so after quarantine a lot of work awaits me. I also spend time with my family and study.”

Varinska said she believes Tokyo-bound athletes will ultimately gain from the postponement, and urges them to be resourceful until the Games.

“I think that a reboot is taking place and everyone has some time to recover,” she told International Gymnast. “Do not be upset. You need to reconcile with it, because we are not able to change anything now. I wish for every athlete to remain optimistic. Put the extra time to good use and perceive this situation as an opportunity to maximize your program for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Take care of yourself and be healthy!”

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