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31 Mar, 2019 17:12

‘I was on the verge of quitting everything’: Zagitova opens up on pre-world championship struggles

‘I was on the verge of quitting everything’: Zagitova opens up on pre-world championship struggles

Russian figure skating star Alina Zagitova has revealed the struggles she faced ahead of the recent world championships in Japan, saying she was on the verge of “quitting and leaving” as she struggled to find form.

Zagitova claimed gold in Saitama earlier in March, adding a maiden world title to the Olympic gold medal she claimed in South Korea last year.

The 16-year-old Russian was in dominant form in Japan, where she finished ahead of rising Kazakh star Elizabet Tursynbayeva, and Russia's Evgeniya Medvedeva in third. 

Also on rt.com Russian figure skating star Alina Zagitova wins gold at world championships

But Zagitova revealed in a wide-ranging interview that she had struggled in the build-up to the event, which came around two months after she had finished second at the European championships in Belarus in January.

“After the European championships, I changed my mind a lot, I wanted to work, to run, to train,” Zagitova said in the interview published on the Russian Figure Skating Federation website

“But the closer it got to the world championships, the more nervous I got. I thought all the time: the start is already soon, which last year I lost [came fifth]…

“And with these nerves came problems with my jumps. My jumps weren’t working out, and I got even more nervous.

“I didn’t know how to sort things out, and began to behave in the wrong way, my trainers said one thing, and I did the opposite.

“In my head I understood that it wasn’t right, but I couldn’t do anything about it.”

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Zagitova says her morale fell so low that she even considered “quitting and leaving” – but credits her coaching team, headed by renowned Russian trainer Eteri Tutberidze, with pulling her out of her funk.   

“No one, apart from me, my trainers and others close to me, knows how hard it was for me to prepare for this championship.

“My trainers had to pull me out [of the situation], because nothing was working out in training. I was on the edge, and I even thought about quitting everything, leaving.   

“But my trainers really helped me. They didn’t force me, they found the right words. No psychologists worked with me.

“The psychologists are my trainers, and they helped me prepare for this championship,” she added.

Prior to the championships in Japan, Zagitova had experienced something of an up and down season, finishing second behind countrywoman Sofia Samodurova at the European Championships in Minsk, and also occupying the second spot on the podium at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Canada in December.

Also on rt.com Japanese star Kihira clinches Grand Prix final win as Zagitova settles for 2nd

In-between came an underwhelming performance at the Russian nationals, where Zagitova finished a disappointing fifth place behind a host of junior skaters.

It was recently revealed that Zagitova had battled severe burns and blisters during that tournament, the extent of which had previously gone unreported.  

READ MORE: Price of success: Olympic champ Zagitova skated with severe blisters at nationals, photos reveal

But with her triumph in Japan, Zagitova appears to have put those troubles, as well as her recent nerves, firmly behind her.