Although Czech gymnast Kristyna Palesova has not quite fully recovered from a serious knee injury she suffered 2 1/2 years ago, she is confident about her chances of making her second Olympic all-around final at this summer's London Games.
Palesova, who will turn 21 on Feb. 22, placed 21st all-around at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She injured her right knee in podium training at the 2009 World Championships in London, but performed well enough at the Olympic test event in London in January to earn an individual berth for the London Games.
In this IG Online interview, the ambitious Palesova details her plans for this Olympic year, and how she plans to continue infusing her performances with her characteristic creativity and power.
IG: How close to 100 percent healthy do you feel at this point in the Olympic year?
KP: Well, I still don't feel 100 percent healthy for sure, but I guess that I won't feel like that anymore. After the kind of injury I had – a torn ACL - I think it's not even possible, because even though I don't want think about that, it's always coming up into my thoughts. It will never be like before the surgery, but I need to tell that now I feel almost 90 percent better than a year ago. So I am really happy now!
Kristyna Palesova (Czech Republic)
IG: Besides being older, in which ways have you changed since your first Olympic Games in 2008?
KP: One of the main ways I have changed for sure is that now I am much stronger mentally. The injury really knocked me down and I didn't know if I would be able to get back into good shape in gymnastics. I was able to do it, even though I am still not back to where I was in Beijing, but that's what still makes me stronger. And, of course, I am a little bigger and heavier, so I had to learn to work with my body a little differently.
IG: You recently posted a video of yourself training a flip-flop, Arabian on beam. The combination looked solid, but how confident are you with it? And when do you think it will be ready for competition?
KP: I started to do this combination already before the London test event (in January), but I hadn't a lot of time to do it often, so I stopped doing it and started to do it again right after competition. I would love to compete this combination, but it needs a lot of time to be confident with it, so if I will be able to prepare it for a competition, it's going to be for London, probably.
IG: All of your floor routines are uniquely choreographed, but the one you are preparing for London is particularly unique. Where did you find the music, how did you create the choreography, and what you are trying to express in this routine?
KP: I heard this music for the first time when I saw a video on Youtube in which a very great Japanese dancer was dancing to this music. I listened to it over and over, and I definitely fell in love with the music and also with the dance. At the same time I met Jana Burkiewiczova, one of our (Czech) greatest choreographers of modern jazz dance, so I came up with the idea to ask her if she could try to make me a new floor routine.
The main reason was that I wanted to come with something new and totally different from other gymnasts. And this choreographer was the right person to do it. We made this routine to compete with it already in Tokyo (2011 World Championships), but in training I found out that it was harder than I thought. It's really something different, so I am looking forward to preparing it for this year, especially for London!
IG: What advice has your coach, Katerina Janeckova, given you for London, especially since she also prepared you for Beijing?
KP: I am so happy that Katerina is still coaching me. She was the main person who helped me to get back. She gives me advice all the time since she has been my coach. Now it's mostly up to me, what I want to reach, but she always tells me, "I am always here for you to help you reach your goals!" So for me this is the best thing to know right now.
IG: At this point in the year, what do you think is a realistic target for you in London?
KP: I think that, if I improve my routines as I plan, I can make the all-around final as I did in Beijing, and also add the bars final. It's a challenge for me, but I like challenges. And I am ready to do anything to reach my goals!
Read "Rebuilding Phase," a profile on Palesova, in the June 2011 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To order back issues, click here.