Spotlight on Lidiia Iakovleva

With only days before Lidiia heads to Tokyo to compete, we didn’t get the chance to interview her in person. Thankfully we were able to get in touch with her and the team at Aspire Gymnastics Club, where she trains, and she kindly answered some questions for us.

When and where did you start gymnastics?

I started Rhythmic Gymnastics in small city called Petrozavodsk, Russia when I was 5 years old. 

Representing your country and competing at the Olympics, has it always been a dream of yours?

Competing at the Olympics was not only a lifetime dream for me growing up but finally achieving my ultimate sporting goal of representing Australia at the pinnacle sporting event of the world, whilst competing with the world’s best is my most rewarding achievement to date.

After a disruptive and challenging year that was 2020, how have you kept yourself motivated and focused?

For me the quarantine period was not a set back, in fact it was the time when I could breathe out and re-evaluate what I want to achieve from the sport. And when my usual competition and training environment has been taken away from me, I realised how much I need the sport of rhythmic gymnastics.

What are you most looking forward to at the 2020 Tokyo Games

As an athlete breaking through in my sport, the Olympics is the last frontier and having experienced briefly as a Youth Olympian in 2018, the connection is immense going into these Olympic Games where I believe the spirit is about bringing out the best in oneself. 

What advice would you give young gymnasts that have the same aspiration in becoming an Olympian

Be honest with yourself, work hard, fight till the end and never give up because you never know how far you can go.  

Who have been the biggest supporters in your journey to Tokyo?

Over the past six years of my sporting journey I have met a number of incredible people that have impacted and influenced the gymnast and person that I have become.

I am greatful for all their contribution. 

But of course unconditional support comes from my family especially my mum, Iuliia, who is also my coach as well as Anya Tabolkina the owner of Aspire Gymnastics Academy.

In times of doubt, what have you told yourself? 

When I doubt myself, I repeat to myself that “Lidiia, you are a fighter and if you give up now it’s not going to be better tomorrow”.  

What do you love most about gymnastics?

I love the rewarding feeling after completing a good routine either at training or competition especially when I create a new PB and mentally push past my limits.  

What do you love most about competing?

It pushes me past my limits both mentally and physically. 

Do you have any rituals before you compete?

Before I step onto the competition floor I usually do ten plies while repeating to myself ‘I am breathing out the nerves,’ then I do ten more plies while repeating the main corrections in my routine and finally finish of with ‘I will fight till the end.’ Something else that helps me out is taking a short breath in and a long breath out. 

What’s your favorite pump-up song?

The band which pumps me up is Maneskin.

Who are you excited to see compete at the Games?

Neymar Junior, he is one of the world’s best football players and I promised my little brother I would get a photo and his autograph if possible. 

Past or present, who is your favorite gymnast?

I don’t have a favourite gymnast because everyone is unique in their own way.