The head coach of Russia’s national team on rhythmic gymnastics, Irina Viner, believes that world’s most renowned rhythmic gymnast, Alina Kabayeva (click here to see pictures), has lost time to get ready for Olympic Games in Beijing. All her competitors have already prepared new programs. “Apparently, Alina’s injured leg still hurts. Preparations to Olympics 2008 are in full swing, but she has not appeared in a gym yet, not a single time," she said.
It virtually means that Alina Kabayeva decided to quit her professional sports career. She currently concentrates on politics. Kabayeva has recently become a deputy of the State Duma (the Parliament of Russia). She was appointed deputy head of the Committee for Youth Affairs.
Alina Kabayeva’s last performance took place in November of 2007 in Austria.
Kabayeva made her first announcement to quit in the autumn of 2004, after her triumph at the Olympic Games in Athens. Afterwards, she spent six months enjoying herself and not even thinking about gymnastics. However, head coach Irina Viner urged everyone not to believe the stories of Kabayeva’s decision to end her sports career. Kabayeva, one of world’s most beautiful athletes, will be able to stay on top for up to 40 years due to her unbelievable grace and flexibility.
The Olympic champion decided to return to gymnastics in the summer of 2005. However, Alina disappointed her fans with a poor performance in St.Petersburg. She explained that it was impossible for her to retrieve her previous shape after eight months of idleness. She did not make it to the World Gymnastics Championship in 2005.
However, in 2006 Kabayeva won two large tournaments in Moscow. Nevertheless, she failed to win the European Championship in Moscow.
Alina Kabayeva injured her knee in the summer of 2007, which made her skip the European Championship.
In December of 2007, Kabayeva became a deputy of the State Duma.
Kabaeva started rhythmic gymnastics in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1987 at age 4. Her first coach was A. Malkina. Her father was a professional football player and the family was constantly following him to different places in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. At first many coaches did not like her because they thought that she was too "heavy" and "ugly" to be a rhythmic gymnast, none of them seemed to consider her a gymnast of any particular talent. In her young teens she moved to Russia, there her mother took her to the Russian head coach Irina Viner, who liked her from the start.
She made her international debut in 1996. In 1998 at age 15 Alina took out the European Championships in Portugal, her victory considered by many to be completely "out of the blue". Back then she was the youngest member of the Russian squad and she was competing alongside internationally recognised teammates, like Amina Zaripova. In 1999 Alina became European Champion for the second consecutive time and stole the World title in Osaka, Japan. She went on winning a total of 5 all-around titles at the European Championships and added another World title in 2003 in Budapest, Hungary.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov