Margarita Mamun explains Russia's rhythmic gymnastics dominance

Olympic champion talks about a potential future in coaching

By ZK Goh

Books, films, and taking care of her young son Lev have kept Margarita Mamun going despite the lack of sports.

The rhythmic gymnastics star, who retired in 2017, was meant to go to Tokyo 2020 as a television analyst before the Games were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to the Olympic Channel from Moscow, where she marked Olympic Day by leading the Olympic Day Workout on the @Olympics Instagram, the 24-year-old said: "We rewatched so many movies and cartoons with my son. I read; the books were such page turners that I would be bored to read anything else."

Asked if she missed competing and would like to return, the Russian said: "Rhythmic gymnastics is a very young sport. It’s very hard to get back there after having a baby. My back is not as flexible as it used to be.

"I think I already reached my dream and that's why I plan to achieve other dreams now."

Russia's rhythmic gymnastics dominance

You have to go back to Atlanta 1996 to find the last time a Russian did not stand on the top step of a rhythmic gymnastics Olympic podium.

Since then, Russian athletes have won every single Olympic gold. That, Mamun said, is down mostly to the team's head coach and president of the country's rhythmic gymnastics federation, Irina Viner.

Viner has coached the last four individual Olympic champions: Mamun (2016), Evgeniya Kanaeva (2012 and 2008), Alina Kabaeva (2004), and Yulia Barsukova (2000).

"There is no particular secret to the question why Russia has been so dominant," according to Mamun. "Irina Viner plays a big part in it. The bar is set so high now, and that is only growing every year."

That, in part, is driven by the intra-squad rivalry between the country's many young talents.

"We have a lot of girls doing the sports and we have a huge rivalry inside our team. You train on one carpet and next to you is another gymnast who is even better, even stronger... this is how the growth happens - we look at each other and set the level higher every time."


Mamun says she still intends to be at Tokyo 2020 as a commentator, but could she have a future in coaching?

The Olympic champion featured on the Olympic Channel original series The Z Team, where she visited a rhythmic gymnastics school and had one week to help coach the children to prepare for a competition.

"I really hope next year (…) I will get to be a commentator, to see the performances of Russian rhythmic gymnasts and to comment on them.

"Taking part in The Z Team was a very extraordinary experience for me. It was unforgettable. I remember myself being a young gymnast. Imagine someone like Alina Kabaeva coming up to me and coaching me, it would have been amazing.

"So I understood the girls and their emotions and also my emotions were great.

"I tried and I could see that the coach's job is extremely difficult. I can become a coach and I think I can do a good job."