Australian debutant Lidiia Iakovleva has done herself proud in her first Olympic competition, putting up an incredible personal best score for her Club’s routine in the Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Around qualification.

After a tough 18 months, due to the pandemic setbacks, the 17-year-old qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in May. Earning the Oceania quota place, thanks to her winning performance at the Continental Championships on the Gold Coast, having had no international competition.

Despite the challenges, Iakovleva put together four incredible routines, scoring well in all apparatus. Clean routines earned a 20.600 for Hoop, 19.800 for Ball, 16.050 for Ribbon and a personal best of 22.325, for her favourite apparatus, Clubs. This also marks her best score at an international event, finishing 23rd overall with an All-Around score of 78.775.

“That’s the highest score I’ve ever gotten, it feels good because I haven’t had any international competition for the past two years,” Iakovleva said.

“I think my last routine [Clubs] went really, I’m just happy that I did it. There are many improvements that I can work on but today I did the best that I could.”

Like all the athletes who have trained for the Olympic Games, Iakovleva said that part of the strength she has worked on over the years is not just the physical strength, but also the mental strength.

“Like all athletes, I think it’s good to be tough physically, but you also have to be tough mentally because every training you have those mental steps you have to take, one step at a time that you have to take every single training so you can do well in competition.

“It’s been really hard because the competitions give you experience, and I haven’t been able to have that because of COVID but it just felt amazing because all the hard work hasn’t been for nothing. There have been a few times where I wanted to quit, but I stayed and I’m just so happy it turned out like that.”

Reflecting on her journey to the Games, Iakovleva was thrilled with her performance and the experience she had gained by the opportunity she had had as a member of the Australian Olympic Team.

“It’s just wonderful to see how many athletes there are from all around the world and how they achieve their goals, same with the Youth Olympics, and now I get to enjoy the village and watch the competition tomorrow and I’m just so happy.” Iakovleva said.

“I’m looking towards the Commonwealth Games next year and that’s a good goal, but honestly not sure beyond that, will have to see what the future brings.”

Source: Shannon Knaus