Mustafina (often called "Musty" by fans) posseses a soft, lyrical and wistful brand of gymnastics, coupled with an intense demeanor and a willingness to innovate, but occasionally battles endurance issues and routines that fluctuate in difficulty value. Her strongest event is uneven bars and her weakest is arguably balance beam, where she shows inconsistency.
In 2006, Mustafina competed in the 2006 Frienship Classic. She won the vault and balance beam finals and placed second behind Catherine Nguyen in the all-around, uneven bars and floor exercise finals.
Mustafina first came to international prominence as a gymnast in what was her first major junior competition, the 2007 International Junior Competition. She won silver medals in the all-around, the uneven bars, the vault, the balance beam, and in the floor exercise. USA's Rebecca Bross won all five of those competitions. It was noted as a result of these championships that both Mustafina and Bross were likely to be a major force in Gymnastics in the years to come, a prediction that was born out by subsequent results.
Also, in 2007, Mustafina finished second in the all-around at the Gymnix International in Montreal. She also finished second with the Russian team in the Stella Zakharova Cup.
Mustafina competed at the 2008 Junior European Gymnastics Championships in Clermont-Ferrand. She was a gold medalist with the team and finished second in the all-around to team mate Tatiana Nabieva.
Later in 2008, Mustafina competed in the Massilia Gym Cup in Marseille, finishing second in the floor exercise and seventh in the all-around.
Mustafina began the year by becoming all-around champion at the Russian national championships. She also won on the balance beam, finished second on the uneven bars, and third in the floor exercise.
In July 2009, Mustafina competed in the Japan Cup in Tokyo where the Russian team finished second. Mustafina also finished second in the all-around to China's Huang Qiushuang. She followed this up by winning the all-around in the Russia Cup and at the Doha Gymnasiade. At the latter, she also won Gold with the Russian team and finished first on the uneven bars, on the balance beam, and in the floor exercise.
In March, whilst warming up on the floor for the Russian nationals, Mustafina sustained an ankle injury. This prevented her from taking part in the national championships. Junior Viktoria Komova went on to take the all-around title in Mustafina's absence. This was ironic as both Mustafina and Komova are widely regarded as Russia's two best hopes for individual gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in the female gymnastics competitions.
Mustafina quickly recovered from her injury to take part in the World Cup in Paris, where she finished second on the balance beam.
In May, Mustafina took part in her first major senior competition, the 2010 European Women's Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Mustafina won the silver medal on both the uneven bars and the balance beam, as well as the gold medal with the Russian team. She also qualified for the floor final, finishing eighth.
Following the European Championships, Mustafina took part in the Japan Cup where she finished first with the Russian team and third in the all-around. She then took part in the Russian Cup where she finished first in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise, and finished third on beam. She then competed at the Holland Invitational where she finished first with the Russian team and first in the all-around.
At the 2010 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Mustafina was the top qualifier for the all-around competition, and qualified to participate in all four of the event finals. She was the first gymnast to accomplish this feat since Svetlana Khorkina in 1997. She then won gold with the Russian team (contributing most points in the process and playing the leading role - the teams win was Russia's first at the World Championships as an independent nation), and improved upon her scores in qualification to go on and win the all-around gold. When it came to the event finals, however, she seemed almost exhausted from her previous exertions and her scores fell, but despite that still succeeded in winning silver medals in the vault, on the uneven bars, and in the floor exercise. She fell on the beam to finish seventh in that final. All in all, therefore, Mustafina's five medals (two golds and three silvers) made her the most successful gymnast at the 2010 World Championships and the most successful in a world championships since Andreea Raducan of Romania and Khorkina at the 2001 World Championships.
Commenting on Mustafina's win in the all-around at the World Championships, Andy Thornton from Universal Sports stated: "The story behind Aliya Mustafina's all-around gold today is that of a revived dynasty; the dominant Soviet women's team of the 1980's and early 1990's - whom many consider to represent the absolute epitome of artistic gymnastics - was dead and now reborn. In addition to leading her teammates to their country's first world title as an independent nation, Mustafina has delivered one of the great performances by a female gymnast ever - capturing the very same artistry, difficulty, and competitive composure that made her Soviet predecessors so beloved and revered. Mustafina's four-event arsenal is so well balanced it's hard to pick a favorite event to watch her on, and a win so convincing and undeniable as hers gives a satisfying sense of closure to a competition. She has established herself and her Russian teammates as the absolute gymnasts to watch over the next two years - and the gymnasts to beat."
On the 13th November 2010, Mustafina competed in the "Freddy Cup" Italian Grand Prix (in which the women competed on beam and uneven bars) where she won the balance beam competition (in which she added some new skills to her routine), beating Viktoria Komova into second place in the process. However, she missed out some elements in her uneven bars routine and ended up fourth in that competition, a competition which was won by Komova.
Mustafina next competed at the Toyota Cup in Japan in December 2010 where she was again scheduled to compete with Komova in what is now regarded as the main rivalry in women's gymnastics, ahead of what International Gymnast Magazine is calling the "anticipated all-around showdown between the two stars...at the Russian championships in March and European championships in April". However, at the last minute, Komova was switched to the Voronin Memorial event instead, but later withdrew due to injury. At the Toyota Cup, Mustafina won gold on the floor and on the vault. She also won silver on the beam, finishing second to Lauren Mitchell.
In late December 2010, Mustafina entered the Voronin Memorial event as a surprise late entrant. She won the all-around competition and also won golds in the floor exercise and on the uneven bars.
Commenting on a highly successful 2010 in the Russian Artistic Gymnastics Federation magazine, Gimnastika, Mustafina stated: "What did I learn from the World Championships? That we can win, too! We can beat the Chinese and we can beat the Americans – there's nothing that difficult in it. We have to work and everything will be fine."
It was expected that Mustafina would begin the new gymnastics season by competing at Russian Nationals. However, she was switched to compete at the AT&T American Cup instead which took place on the 5th March 2011. Mustafina finished second in the all-around to America's Jordyn Wieber. Looking out of sorts in her first event of the new season, a touch down on the floor at the end of a tumbling pass in the floor exercise ultimately cost Mustafina the gold medal (albeit losing out by just 0.068 points).
Mustafina next competed at the Bercy World Cup (French International) from the 19–20 March 2011. She competed on the beam, the uneven bars, and on the vault, winning gold in all three events. She did not compete in the floor exercise.
On the 8th April 2011, Mustafina competed at the European Championships where she suffered an injury to her left knee during the first rotation in the all-around on the vault (on landing whilst performing a Yurchenko 2 1/2, also known as an Amanar) and had to withdraw. Her compatriot, Anna Dementyeva went on to win the all-around competition.
Mustafina duly underwent surgery on 13 April 2011. During her rehabilitation, she kept begging the Russian head coach, Aleksandr Aleksandrov (also her personal coach), to put her on the team for the World Championships in Tokyo. Aleksandrov called her "the leader, the heart and soul" of the Russian team, but as she was not fully healed from her injury, he did not put her on the team.
Mustafina took part in her first competition after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and knee surgery at the 2011 Voronin Cup, she finished 6th in the all-around and won silver on uneven bars behind compatriot Viktoria Komova. In an interview, Mustafina said she was pleased with her comeback.
Mustafina began her year by winning the Russian National All-Around title in the absence of Viktoria Komova who would later go on to defeat Mustafina at the upcoming Russian Cup All-Around. Mustafina continued to show steady improvements. She competed at the SUI-GBR-RUS competition in April, where she stuck a double-twisting Yurchenko.
Mustafina was named to the Russian team for the European Championships. She did not compete on balance beam in the team final, but after posting scores in the 15 range on vault and uneven bars, she performed poorly on floor exercise. The Russian team took the silver behind Romania.
Mustafina competed at the Russian Cup in June. She qualified first into the all-around, but placed second behind Viktoria Komova. She also won gold on uneven bars and floor exercise, and silver on balance beam.
On July 7th, Mustafina was named to the Russian team for the Olympics.
During qualifications, Mustafina competed on all four events. She qualified fourth to the all-around, fifth to the uneven bars, and eighth to the floor exercise final.
During the team final, Mustafina continued to compete on all four events. She stuck her double-twisting Yurchenko, performed well on bars and floor, but had a few errors on balance beam. After teammate Anastasia Grishina's floor routine (where she received a 12.466), Mustafina and her teammates were all in tears, as they thought they hadn't done enough to even medal. When they found out they won the silver, placing behind the United States and ahead of Romania, they were all smiles during the medal ceremony.
In the all-around, Mustafina performed a very clean double-twisting Yurchenko and scored a 15.233. She moved on to the uneven bars and scored a 16.100, the highest score on uneven bars of the night. However, on balance beam, she fell on her Arabian salto and was over her allotted time. She scored a 13.633. She then went to floor exercise and scored a 14.600. Originally, she tied for the bronze with USA's Aly Raisman, until a tie breaker was induced and the bronze was awarded to Mustafina. Mustafina said of USA's Gabby Douglas, the Olympic All-Around Champion:
- “She was fantastic. She didn’t make a single mistake. She became the leading athlete from the very beginning.”
Mustafina then competed in the uneven bars event final. She performed sixth, and scored a 16.133. This guaranteed her a medal with two gymnasts to go, and it ended up being gold. China's He Kexin took the silver and Great Britain's Beth Tweddle took the bronze. She was the first Russian gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal in twelve years, the last one being Elena Zamolodchikova at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in the floor exercise and vault final.
In the floor exercise final, Mustafina performed sixth. She performed very well, much better than she had previously in the Olympics. She scored a 14.900 and originally tied for the bronze with Italy's Vanessa Ferrari. However, a tie breaker was induced, and Mustafina was awarded the bronze behind USA's Aly Raisman and Romania's Catalina Ponor.
Mustafina competed in the team competition at the Stuttgart World Cup at the end of November, and won the team gold medal.
In January, Mustafina was announced as part of the lineup for the La Roche-sur-Yon World Cup. She withdrew prior to the competition.
In March, Mustafina successfully defended her Russian National Championship All-Around title with an aggregate score of 59.850. Mustafina also revealved an upgraded balance beam routine with a difficulty of 6.6. She also helped her team, Moscow, win the silver medal in the team competition, and won a bronze on the uneven bars after making a small mistake on one of her pirouettes. Although she also qualified to the balance beam and floor exercise event finals, she chose to pull out because her knee started bothering her. Later that month, Mustafina was named to the Russian team for the European Championships, where she will hopefully qualify to the all-around and event finals. At the end of March, Mustafina competed at the Stella Zakharova Cup, winning gold in the team final, all-around, and on uneven bars, and silver on balance beam.
In April, she competed at the European Championships, where she qualified in fourth place for the all-around after a poor performance on beam and solid scores on the other events, first for the uneven bars and third for the floor final. She won gold in the all-around ahead of Romania's Larisa Iordache and Mustafina's compatriot Anastasia Grishina. She also won gold in the uneven bars final. However, the day before the floor exercise final, she was taken out and replaced with her teammate Grishina.
In June, Mustafina's coach, Aleksandr Aleksandrov, left Russia to coach in Brazil. Mustafina was coached by her choreographer Raisa Ganina for the Universiade in Kazan in July. However, a week before the competition, Mustafina came down with an illness and was replaced by the team alternate, Ekaterina Kramarenko, in podium training. She recovered in time to take part in the competition. Not only that, she won three gold medals (team, all-around, uneven bars), and a silver medal (balance beam). She placed ninth in the floor exercise final (as Ellie Black and Elsa García tied for second behind her compatriot Ksenia Afanasyeva) with a fall on her double tuck dismount. Mustafina was named to the Russian team for the World Championships later that summer. Because she had a spot on the team, she was told to sit out the Russian Cup to rest for Worlds. A week before the competition began, it was announced Mustafina was training two vaults again.
In qualifications, Mustafina competed in the fourth subdivision. She fell on her upgraded first tumbling pass on floor (whip, whip, double Arabian). Mustafina went on to vault, where she stood up her first vault but sat down her second. She performed a watered down bar routine to ensure a spot in the bars final. She qualified to the all-around in fifth, the uneven bars final in fifth, and the beam final in eighth. She also qualified as the second reserve on vault.
In the all-around, Mustafina hit four clean routines, including a well-executed whip, whip, double Arabian, stag leap pass on floor to win the bronze behind USA's Simone Biles and Kyla Ross. In the uneven bars final, she competed seventh. She hit a very good routine to score 15.033, and won bronze behind China's Huang Huidan and Ross. In the balance beam final, Mustafina performed first to score a 14.900. After her routine, her coaches filed an inquiry about her D-score, but it was rejected. However, her score maintained throughout the final and she won over Ross and Biles. Mustafina became the first Russian to win the World title on balance beam since Dina Kochetkova in 1996. Mustafina also became the seventh gymnast to achieve the rare feat of winning a World medal in every event, following Larisa Latynina, Ludmilla Tourischeva, Ecaterina Szabo, Elena Shushunova, Lavinia Miloşovici, and Svetlana Khorkina.
Prior to the competition beginning, Mustafina had submitted a triple Y turn on floor exercise to the FIG. However, she did not perform it over the course of the competition, so it was not added to the Code of Points or named after her.
In late October, Mustafina was announced as a competitor for the Stuttgart World Cup, but withdrew from the individual roster in early November. She was later named to the Russian team for the Team Challenge at the World Cup. Her team won the silver medal in the Team Challenge, and Mustafina posted the highest balance beam score: 15.150.
Mustafina took a break in January to finish her exams but was back in training soon after. She won her fourth Russian National title, tying her with Svetlana Khorkina, but ran into problems later. In the team final, her teammate Anastasia Grishina injured her knee on floor exercise. Mustafina was visibly shaken by her injury, and fell on her first pass on floor. Her team still won a silver medal. She also fell on bars in event finals and only finished sixth, but managed to win a bronze on balance beam. Afterwards, she was named to Russia's senior team for the European Championships.
Mustafina was nursing a bad ankle heading into Sofia. She only competed on bars and beam in qualifications, but was switched into the vault lineup in the team final. Russia won bronze, and individually, Mustafina won silver on uneven bars and bronze on balance beam. In August, she competed at the Russian Cup, sweeping almost all the gold medals, and winning silver on uneven bars.
Later that year, Mustafina competed at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. In qualifications, she posted scores of 14.900 on vault, 15.166 on the uneven bars, 14.308 on balance beam (after a shaky performance where she missed some connections), and 14.500 on the floor, for a total of 58.874, qualifying in second for the all around. She also qualified in fourth for uneven bars, seventh on balance beam, and fifth on floor. In the all around, she started off quite well, with a 15.100 on vault, followed by a 15.041 on the uneven bars. On the beam however, she started making a few errors, and ended up with a 14.341. By the time the fourth rotation started, she looked tired, and sat down her double Arabian; her score for floor was a 13.433, giving her a 57.915, 0.317 behind eventual bronze medalist, Kyla Ross. In the uneven bars final, she performed a clean routine with an execution score of 8.8, the second highes of the final, but her difficulty of only 6.3 brought her down to sixth place, just 0.183 shy of the bronze. On the balance beam, she was the third gymnast to go up. During her routine, she didn't add an acrobatic flight series, and 0.500 was deducted from her difficulty score, resulting in a score of 14.166 and a bronze medal. In the floor final, she added two whips before her double arabian, upping her difficulty by 0.200. She was the last to perform, and after a solid routine, she scored 14.733, earning her the bronze, 0.033 ahead of USA's Mykayla Skinner.
About her poor performance in the all around, Mustafina later stated a high fever caused her to perform not as well as she would have liked.
Mustafina continued to compete after Nanning. At the Stuttgart World Cup in late November, she posted a good score on vault but had an uncharacteristic fall on uneven bars and posted sub-14 scores on balance beam and floor. She finished fifth. At the end of the year, she found herself a new personal coach, Sergei Starkin, one of the coaches on the men's side.
In January, Mustafina underwent treatment for a back injury. In order for her to fully recover, her coach said she would miss Russian Nationals and European Championships. She was named to the Russian team for the inaugural European Games in Baku in June. She showed some upgrades, including a double layout pass on floor, helped the Russian team to a team gold medal, and took individual golds in the all-around and uneven bars, and a silver medal on floor exercise. In August and September, Mustafina was allowed to skip the Batumi Tournament and the Russian Cup, two competitions that factor into deciding the Worlds team, while still retaining her eligibility for Glasgow. It was eventually decided that Mustafina would miss Worlds in order to preserve herself to for the Rio Olympics next year. On November 3, she underwent surgery on her right knee and went through a rehabilitation period.
Mustafina returned to competition at the Russian Championships, performing watered down routines on two events. She won team silver and uneven bars and balance beam bronze. In June, she competed at the European Championships in Switzerland. She helped Russia to a team gold medal, and won gold on balance beam, after a near-perfect routine, and bronze on uneven bars.
In July, she competed at the Russian Cup, but had a rough competition, suffering several falls. The Moscow team only placed fourth in the team final, but Mustafina snatched an all-around bronze medal. Despite this, not only was she named to the Russian team for the Olympics, but she was also named team captain.
Russia competed in the second subdivision of qualifications, starting on balance beam. Mustafina struggled there, falling after missing her acrobatic series. Her other three events were solid and qualified her in fifth to the all-around and second to the uneven bars final. Russia qualified third into the team final, but improved on their performance from qualifications to win silver over China. In the all-around, Mustafina had problems with her acrobatic series on balance beam again, and additional issues with her turns on floor exercise. Nonetheless, her first two events were enough for her to defend her all-around bronze medal. What's more impressive is that she was successfully able to defend her Olympic title on the uneven bars, winning over USA's Madison Kocian and Germany's Sophie Scheder.
In November, she married Russian bobsledder Alexey Zaytsev. The two of them welcomed a daughter, Alisa, the following June. The Russian Gymnastics Federation organized a domestic competition named after her, the Aliya Mustafina Cup, for young gymnasts in Moscow ages 8-12.
Mustafina returned to competition at the Russian Championships. She impressed many on the first day of competition, using her 2014 floor routine, complete with double Arabian, and hit four solid routines. After winning team gold and qualifying third to the all-around, a fall on vault dropped her to fourth in the all-around final. She also fell in the uneven bars final, finishing sixth, and grabbed the beam in the beam final, finishing fourth. Later that month, she announced that she had divorced her husband.
|2007||Japan Junior International||2nd||2nd||2nd||2nd||2nd|
|Stella Zakharova Cup||2nd|
|2008||Clermont-Ferrand Junior European Championships||1st||2nd|
|Massilia Gym Cup||7||2nd|
|2009||Junior Russian National Championships||1st||2nd||1st||3rd|
|2010||Paris World Cup||4||2nd|
|Birmingham European Championships||1st||2nd||2nd||8|
|Rotterdam World Championships||1st||1st||2nd||2nd||7||2nd|
|Paris World Cup||1st||1st||1st|
|2012||Russian National Championships||1st|
|Brussels European Championships||2nd|
|London Olympic Games||2nd||3rd||1st||3rd|
|Stuttgart World Cup||1st|
|Stella Zakharova Cup||1st||1st||1st||2nd|
|Moscow European Championships||1st||1st|
|Antwerp World Championships||3rd||3rd||1st|
|Stuttgart World Cup||2nd|
|Sofia European Championships||3rd||2nd||3rd|
|Nanning World Championships||3rd||4||3rd||3rd|
|Stuttgart World Cup||5|
|2015||Baku European Games||1st||1st||1st||2nd|
|Bern European Championships||1st||3rd||1st|
|Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games||2nd||3rd||1st|
2007 - "Sahra Saidi" by Goma Gamal
2009-2010 - "Hijo de la Luna" by Sarah Brightman
2010 Japan Cup - "Por Una Cabeza"
2011 - "Hood Jump" by John Powell
2013 Worlds - "Soulseeker" by Thomas Bergersen
2015 - "My Way" by Frank Sinatra
- ↑ Russian Championships win
- ↑ Euros
- ↑ illness
- ↑ recovery
- ↑ Stuttgart confirmation
- ↑ withdrawal from Stuttgart
- ↑ Team Challenge at Stuttgart
- ↑ Euros
- ↑ new coach
- ↑ missing Russian Nationals and Euros
- ↑ Olympics
- ↑ team captain
- ↑ married
- ↑ daughter
- ↑ competition named after her
- ↑ resumed training
- ↑ plans for Euros
- ↑ divorced