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IG Interview: Teja Belak (Slovenia)
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IG chats with Slovenia's Teja Belak, who is hoping to overcome a recent injury and perform credibly at the world championships that will begin in Antwerp on Sept. 30.

A vault finalist at this year's European championships and University Games, Teja Belak of Slovenia is hoping to overcome a recent injury and perform credibly at the world championships that will begin in Antwerp on Sept. 30.

A vault finalist at this year's European championships and University Games, Teja Belak of Slovenia is hoping to overcome a recent injury and perform credibly at the world championships that will begin in Antwerp on Sept. 30.

Born April 22, 1994, in Ljubljana, Belak trains under coach Andrej Mavric at GD Zelena Jama in her hometown.

Belak's vaulting prowess has earned her honors at several competitions over the past three years. She won vault at the 2010 World Cup of Maribor, Slovenia, and the 2012 FIG Challenge Cup that was also held in Maribor.

This year on the apparatus Belak placed fifth at the FIG Challenge Cup of Doha, Qatar; tied for fourth at Europeans in Moscow; placed eighth at the FIG Challenge Cup of Ljubljana; placed sixth at the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey; and placed seventh at the University Games in Kazan. Her current vaults are a well-executed handspring, tucked front-full; and a 1-1/2-twisting Yurchenko.

Belak is also strong on balance beam, on which she finished sixth at the 2013 FIG Challenge Cup of Doha and eighth at the 2013 FIG Challenge Cup in Ljubljana.

In this IG Online interview, Belak details her recent successes and struggles, and outlines her strategy for qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.



Teja Belak (Slovenia)

IG: You came very close to winning a medal in Moscow. What do you think of your performance there, and what you think you could have done better to win a medal?

TB: This year I was really prepared for the European championships in Moscow. Before Moscow I had even more competitions. And so, in these competitions, I could practice my new vault. I was able to correct my mistakes, and perform my new vault very well at the European championships. My goal was to make it to the final. My coach and I didn't even think of winning a medal on this competition. At the end I saw that I actually did have some chance to win a medal, but my competitors had more difficult vaults. Their vaults were [worth] half a point higher than mine. To win a medal I think that I would have had to add a half-twist more to my (1-1/2 twisting Yurchenko) vault, and, of course, do it with no mistakes.

IG: In 2013 you have achieved great results on vault and balance beam, but what are your plans for performing in the all-around at the world championships in Antwerp?

TB: I always compete at the world championships on vault and beam. I don't compete on uneven bars and floor because I have too easy routines on those apparatus. At the world championships I will only compete on the beam and bars. That's what my coach and I decided. At the moment I have a lot of problems with my foot. Since the European championships I have not been able to train normally. Now they've given me an injection in my foot so that I don't feel any pain, and also due to this, I couldn't train consistently. But I will still try to be as good and as ready as possible next competition.

IG: What will be the focus of your training between now and Antwerp?

TB: For this competition I don't have any high hopes to achieve a good result because, in such a short of period of time, it is really hard to get prepared and ready to vault as well as possible in the competition. Of course, I still think that, for entering the final, I would have to perform a more difficult vault, like at the European championships. But you never know what might happen, so that's why you never know what to expect. At the moment I'm only focused on not getting injured anymore, and training as well as possible.

IG: We are already a full year into the new Olympic cycle. What do you think you will need to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games?

TB: To qualify for the Olympic Games I would have to perform a harder element on vault, and I would also have to make my routine on the beam much harder. On the uneven bars I would have to start training a harder routine so that I will be able to achieve a good result in the future. This also counts for my routine on floor. Plus, I have to work on my conditioning on floor. The Olympic Games are in three years. You never know what happens in the next few years, but if I stay without injuries in the future, then I think that I'm on the right path to Rio.

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