Friday , September 17 2021
Home / WORLD / ‘I still don’t believe it’: Comeback kid Iliankova admits Olympic silver is ‘like gold’ to her after battling injury, squad exile

‘I still don’t believe it’: Comeback kid Iliankova admits Olympic silver is ‘like gold’ to her after battling injury, squad exile

The 20-year-old artistic gymnast’s road to her 14.833 score, which beat individual gold medalist Suni Lee’s 14.500, was far from smooth.

Part of a gold-claiming junior team at the European Championships in 2016, her transition to senior level was rough, with constant back injuries preventing her from being able to train and keeping her restricted to the bars or bars and beam.

After a fourth-placed bars finish at the world event in Montreal, she won European Championships gold in 2019 before an allergic reaction prevented her from being able to contest the bars final at the European Games.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nastyailyankova (@nastyailyankova)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nastyailyankova (@nastyailyankova)

Failing to qualify for the individuals, she was removed from the ROC’s Olympics training squad but didn’t stop preparing for the ongoing Games.

She finally secured her place in Japan courtesy of a third-place showing in the Russian Cup in June, finishing as the best of the six competing Russian gymnasts, and became one of only two from the squad in the top placings of the uneven bars final on Sunday, with triple medalist Angelina Melnikova behind her in eighth.  

“I want to say thank you very much to everyone who believed and supported me,” she wrote on Instagram alongside prayer hands and a love heart emoji.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nastyailyankova (@nastyailyankova)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nastyailyankova (@nastyailyankova)

“Thanks to the coaches, doctors, masseurs and my family. I still don’t believe it, but it happened.”

Iliankova will now spend time considering her future, with retirement one of her options after earning a result that she says she would have taken before the Games.

Inspired by watching her compatriots beat the USA to gold in the team competition, she then excelled on bars which were not her specialism when she was growing up.

“For me, this silver is like gold,” she told Championat. “I dedicate the medal to the director of my sports school. He really wanted an Olympic medal – it was his dream.”

Belgian 21-year-old Nina Derwael took gold ahead of Iliankova, with Lee settling for bronze.

© 2021, paradox. All rights reserved.

Check Also

Washington lets former NSA spooks who spied for the UAE off the hook – because the espionage program was a US creation

Under a deal outlined by the Department of Justice, the trio – at least two of …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *