Canadian gymnast Ana Padurariu finished in second place at the Stuttgart AA World Cup event on Sunday, six months after winning the silver medal on beam at the World Championships in Doha. After a shaky start to her senior career, sustaining an ankle injury in her very first senior competition, 16-year-old Ontario native Padurariu was once again on the podium at a competition full of household names such as the USA’s Simone Biles and Aliya Mustafina of Russia. When it was announced that Padurariu was the new leader of the competition, following a stunning floor exercise, the shock on her face was clear to see. When asked after the competition if she was surprised to end up on the podium, Padurariu admitted that she had not expected such a good result and that competing against long-time idols had been an honour:
“I’m still a little starstruck. I’m just glad I was able to go out there and have fun and just show everyone that I worked hard, and it was amazing to compete against such good gymnasts and to be among the top ones.”
While Padurariu made quite an impression as a junior gymnast, the injury so early in her senior career and being able to compete on only two pieces in Doha (uneven bars and balance beam) meant that her profile remained relatively low internationally, resulting in many spectators in Stuttgart being surprised to see her medal.
“I’m not so much known internationally. I was kind of off the screen last year because of my injury. I’m glad to be back doing all around. It feels good!”
She credited the supportive audience and amazing atmosphere in the Porsche Arena with helping keep her spirits up through the competition:
“The atmosphere was so amazing. Like, I’ve never been to a competition where the crowd is so uplifting, the music…it was such a good experience! It’s nice after the routine to have everyone on your side, cheering for you!”
When asked about plans for the next few months, Padurariu said that she was excited about introducing some upgrades and increasing her difficulty, but that she also needed to protect her ankle to avoid further injury:
“Just hoping to get a 1.5 or double twist on vault and upgrade my floor routine again to a full in or a 2.5 punch full, but just want to have a safe pass because of my ankle and just keep working hard on the execution as well.”
Padurariu confirmed that her ankle is not yet 100%, but that it is a lot better and the treatments and physiotherapy provided by her federation ease any associated pain:
“(The ankle) is holding up! We have an amazing team behind us, like physiotherapy and pilates and people to help me, and I’m really grateful for that”.