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Iakovleva set to dominate at Buenos Aires 2018

18 July 2018

BUENOS AIRES: Growing up in Russia, rhythmic gymnastics was the sport of choice for most young girls. At seven years of age, Lidiia Iakovleva took up the sport which she continued pursuing when her family moved to Australia.

Now, at 14 years old, the Moreton Bay College student boasts three consecutive Junior International Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships (2016, 2017 and 2018) and a place at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires.

Even though Iakovleva’s selection for YOG was only announced recently, she has spent the last two years preparing for the chance to represent Australia, attending her first training camp in Russia as a 12-year-old.

“The first time I trained in Russia, my performance instantly improved due to their intense training structure and discipline, which I have now adopted in my own training,” Iakovleva said.

“When I returned home to Australia after my first training session in Russia, I surprised the rest of the competition.

“During the Sydney selection trials for the Pacific Rim Championships, I ended up ranking No.1 due to the new skills I had learnt overseas.

“This was a turning point for me. It was then that I started to believe in myself as a gymnast and I realised that this was what I wanted to pursue as my career.”

Lidiia 6

Since then, Iakovleva has travelled to Russia every year and trains under world-renowned gymnastics coach, Elena Kholodova.

“Elena has developed my choreography to ensure that I really stand out from the competition. She has a way of drawing out my strengths and creating new and difficult elements to my routines, which allow me to grow, achieving high scores and podium places.

“Without Elena’s help I would definitely not be at the current level that I am at and would not have achieved my goal of representing Australia at YOG.”

Training up to 30 hours a week, spending three to four months each year competing in Europe and continuing to attend two to three months of intensive coaching clinics in Russia have all come to fruition for the committed gymnast.

“When I found out that I had officially been selected to represent Australia at YOG, I was extremely honoured and proud and that all of my hard work had paid off.”

For the Queenslander to secure Australia the quota place for YOG, she had to perform at the Oceania Continental Championships, (held in conjunction with 2018’s Australian Gymnastics Championships) and perform, she did.

Iakovleva took home the 2018 Oceania Junior Continental Championship crown, along with the RG Junior International Gymnast of the year award and the Junior All-around title crown for the third consecutive year.

In the finals, it continued raining gold for Iakolveva, who also took out the top spot in all apparatuses -  Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbon at this year's Australian National Titles.

But for this determined teenager, there is still work to be done before she represents her country on the biggest stage of her career so far.

“Straight after the Australian Gymnastics Championships in June I travelled to multiple competitions overseas. I competed in Singapore, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Spain to gain even more valuable competition experience.

“I am planning one more four-week intensive training session in Russia in August and am also attending a competition in Kazan, Russia before I compete at YOG in October.”

Iakovleva, who will likely be one of the youngest members of the Australian Team, will be the nation's sole rhythmic gymnast when she dons the green and gold in Argentina.

The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games will run from 6-18 October.

Liana Buratti


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