Aliya Mustafina finally earned the victory she's been pushing for when she won the gold medal in the uneven bars final of women’s gymnastics Monday.
Mustafina, who has been struggling through a long comeback following a knee injury, didn’t look that great during the first day of the Olympics. She qualified for the event finals on bars and floor, where she finished eighth. Her best score was on bars (15.700).
Mustafina did better in the team finals, placing fourth overall on the bars where she again scored a best of 15.700.
Mustafina struggled during the individual all-around finals, where she suffered a fall on the balance beam but finally showed her true colors on the bars notching a 16.1.
She tied with Team USA’s Aly Raisman for third, but won the bronze due to a tiebreak rule.
Finally, during the uneven bars finals people got a glimpse of the real Mustafina.
As written in an article by Nancy Armour of the Associated Press:
Her uneven bars routine is packed with so many difficult skills it leaves her gasping for air by the time she's finished. But she makes them look easy, flipping and floating from one bar to another. Her execution is exquisite, her toes perfectly pointed, her legs razor straight.
When she landed, she threw up her hands in triumph and turned on a megawatt smile. When her score of 16.133 flashed, her coach picked her up in a bear hug, and chants of “ROSS-EE-YAH!” (Russia) rang out.
The score was good for the gold medal, enough to beat the reigning champion, China's He Kexin.
The victory sealed a perfect three-peat for Mustafina. She now has bronze from the all-around finals, silver from the team finals and gold from the uneven bars.
"I am very, very happy I've won gold," Mustafina said to Armour after winning the Olympic title Monday. "Every medal represents its own thing," she added.
The win means she’s surpassed her dad's Olympic medal total. Farhat Mustafina earned a bronze during the 1976 Montreal Games in Greco-Roman wrestling.
It’s been a long road for Mustafina who was the gymnast to beat at the 2010 World Championships, where she claimed the all-around gold and a medal in every event but one.
She blew out her left ACL at the 2011 European Championships and it seemed like she wouldn’t be able to compete in London.
She wasn’t able to compete in the 2011 world championships and had a horrific showing at this years European Championships.
She talked about her struggles with Clare Fallon of Reuters:
"Half a year ago I was nowhere near in the form that I'm in now," she said through an interpreter. "Making myself work was the hardest part, pushing through and believing in myself."
She had occasionally felt like giving up, she admitted.
"Sometimes I did but the desire left quickly when I watched the other girls and I thought about the prospect of winning."
Now Mustafina has no reason to leave London disappointed as she's already earned the trifecta with the chance to earn another medal during the floor exercise.