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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Inside Gymnastics Journal | Pushed by pleasure, Canada’s Ana Padurariu continues her quest for Paris

By Megan Roth

In November of 2023, Ana Padurariu, the 2018 World Beam Silver Medalist, who represents Canada internationally and UCLA within the NCAA introduced she could be taking the 2024 NCAA season off with a purpose to practice for the 2024 Paris Olympics. After two profitable World Championships in 2018 and 2019, accidents saved Padurariu from competing in Tokyo, what she as soon as thought was her solely probability at changing into an Olympian. Now after competing two seasons in faculty, Padurariu has her sights on Paris. 

Inside Gymnastics caught up with Padurariu in early February to be taught what led her to this determination, what the transition has been like, and what a few of her routines will seem like!

Padurariu first thought of coming again to Elite the summer season after her freshman yr of faculty, what she referred to as one of many lowest factors in her gymnastics profession. She had surgical procedure on one foot and injections within the different and wasn’t positive if she’d be capable to do gymnastics once more. After taking two months off of the game, she was barely capable of do a solid handstand on bars, however knew at the back of her head that she wished to push to the very best stage she may, inspiring her Elite dream.

Via her sophomore yr, she was casually coaching Elite expertise on the facet of her NCAA routines, however recovering from her ankle surgical procedure meant that she didn’t practice a lot beam in any respect within the preseason. It wasn’t till 2023 Canadian Nationals in Might, her return to Elite competitors, the place Padurariu competed a demo routine on beam that she thought to herself, “you already know what, I’d even have a shot at this complete factor.”

The summer season after the 2023 NCAA season is when Padurariu determined she could be stepping away from NCAA for the 2024 season. 

“I used to be simply at dwelling and I’d been fascinated with the choice for a very long time,” Padurariu stated. “Simply seeing how a lot I needed to work for my sophomore faculty season, in my head, it was not very best to do each on the similar time if I wished to thrive in Elite. As a result of this is perhaps my final shot on the Olympics, whereas I nonetheless have time to return to varsity and end out these desires as properly, I actually wished to go away this yr with no regrets and ensure I put my complete deal with the one factor I need for the time being.”

Proper now, Padurariu is taking this yr one step at a time. “I’m not likely placing any stress on myself,” Padurariu stated. “I’m simply having fun with the method as a result of as a lot as I’ve these large targets, I need to be sure I’m completely satisfied alongside the best way and that this yr, I’m targeted on doing gymnastics only for me and for my pure pleasure of it.”

Because the begin of 2024, Padurariu has been again dwelling, coaching at her dwelling gymnasium. Moreover, she’s taking neighborhood faculty courses that may switch for credit score at UCLA to remain on monitor to graduate within the spring or summer season of 2025. 

Adjusting to the totally different coaching setting has been arduous for her, particularly as a result of the women she’s now surrounded by are all youthful than her.  “I feel one of many largest issues I miss about UCLA is simply coaching with ladies my age and having the ability to goof round with them and never be in as a lot of a severe setting,” she stated. “Strolling into the gymnasium on a regular basis at UCLA is simply pure pleasure with dancing and singing. Folks simply love gymnastics there.” 

She’s loved bringing the UCLA ambiance into her coaching in Canada too. “This time in my Elite journey, it’s not as severe because it was beforehand,” Padurariu stated. “I’m capable of convey as a lot vitality and enjoyable as I need with none repercussions.”

Now that she’s competed NCAA gymnastics for 2 seasons, Padurariu has extra belief in her years of coaching. Throughout her freshman season, it was tough for her to grasp that she may compete properly with few hours of coaching every week. “Truthfully, I actually wanted that interval of development to comprehend that I don’t must do as many hours of gymnastics day-after-day to be good. That’s after I actually discovered the artwork of visualization and that taking good care of my physique and my thoughts is extra vital for my gymnastics than repetitions after repetitions,” Padurariu stated. She’s presently coaching extra hours than she was in NCAA, however limits time within the gymnasium to 4 hours a day plus weight coaching on the facet. 

NCAA has additionally helped her consistency and skill to remain within the zone whereas competing. “NCAA helped me so much with discovering cues,” Padurariu stated. “Within the setting of competing the place it’s so loud, you need to discover ways to tune every little thing out. That’s the place I needed to discover ways to discover the cue for every little thing. Discovering my cues and having the ability to be within the zone everytime I do my routine, I feel that has helped my consistency so much. It additionally helped my consistency in the truth that we went to totally different locations virtually each week, so I needed to get used to totally different visuals, totally different audiences, and various things that have been out of my management.”

Now that her coaching is way more impartial than it was at UCLA, Padurariu has needed to discover motivation inside herself to maintain working on a regular basis. “The setting at UCLA actually introduced out my vitality day-after-day even when I didn’t need to practice,” Padurariu stated. “Now that I actually don’t have all of these outdoors sources, I’ve to search out the vitality and motivation inside myself. I’ve to search out my energy and my ‘why’ each single day, which is a distinct problem.” 

Watching NCAA this season whereas being faraway from it has been tough for Padurariu. “One of many first UCLA meets that I used to be watching, I used to be simply sitting on my sofa, crying,” she stated. “I used to be actually completely satisfied for them, however I used to be type of lacking the entire ambiance and being with that complete group and the coaches, simply experiencing the joys of all of it. I’m actually pleased with my determination, nevertheless it was type of a actuality examine for me.” Now, whereas she’s not competing within the NCAA, Padurariu has loved following it extra carefully. “I really feel like I really like studying from individuals,” Padurariu stated. “I’m an enormous visible learner, so Oklahoma is among the greatest and I really like watching them simply to look at their approach and what they do proper of their expertise to have the ability to full it efficiently each single time.”

When it comes to occasions, Padurariu is specializing in bars and beam. “In the summertime I attempted coaching some extra flooring and vault nevertheless it type of compromised my ankle well being to the place I couldn’t do a lot beam for a month at one level,” Padurariu stated. “When that occurred, I spotted I’d reasonably be nice on beam, which is my energy and be capable to get a great bar routine down reasonably than attempt to push and doubtlessly not be wholesome or not have essentially the most problem on beam due to it.”

On beam, Padurariu is working a facet aerial to format stepout collection and a double pike dismount. After competing at Canadian Nationals in 2023, getting the double pike again was an enormous objective. “I knew the double pike as a dismount would enhance my problem so much and simply the general composition of my routine, ” Padurariu stated. “I really like simply having one thing to stay up for and to work in direction of all the time. I don’t like being stagnant. Simply the consistency of working it up to now few months and simply seeing it now, it was actually thrilling to lastly put in on competitors touchdown for the primary time efficiently.” 

Adjusting bars again to an Elite problem has been essentially the most tough. “Bars doesn’t come as simply to me as beam does. It’s arduous getting again the routines and the endurance for it,” Paduradiu stated. “I haven’t performed greater than a 3 talent bar routine for the previous three years. Needing to get again to eight expertise plus all the handstands and giants in between has been a course of.” Beforehand, Padurariu competed a bar routine with plenty of in-bars, a talent she hasn’t gotten again constantly but. She hopes to get her bar routine to an identical composition she had within the 2017-2021 quad, however from toe-ons as an alternative of in-bars. “I need to add in a Church to Pak,” Padurariu stated. “It’s a fantastic thrill to do any kind of Tkatchev in connection to a Pak, simply having the ability to do this efficiently all the time gave me nice pleasure, so I’m hoping to get that again.”

Wanting in direction of the remainder of the Olympic yr, Padurariu is happy to see the place it’ll take her. She made her aggressive return to an Elite meet at Elite Canada February 18-20 and scored a 12.600 on beam, the very best rating of her session. Sadly, she injured her foot warming up for the second day of competitors. It will likely be a pair week restoration course of, she stated, however she’s nonetheless targeted on the yr forward and hopefully getting the chance to compete for Canada in Paris.

When fascinated with all she’s been by this yr and in her profession, she’d wish to thank all of her coaches and her help techniques at dwelling and at UCLA. “With out their data and help I wouldn’t be at this level in my gymnastics profession, and it’s vital for me that they know that,” Padurariu stated. “The good half about being on this journey is that I get to expertise all of the falls and victories with them.”

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