IG Online Interview: Agnes Suto (Iceland)
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Hungarian-born Agnes Suto told IG she is "ready for the big task" as she prepares to compete for Iceland at the world championships later this month in Antwerp.

Born in Hungary but competing for Iceland, Agnes Suto told IG she is "ready for the big task" as she prepares for the world championships later this month in Antwerp.

Suto, who has been living with her family in Iceland since 2005, trains at Gerpla Gymnastics Club in Kopavogur, a suburb of the capital of Reykjavik. Her coaches include Hungarian Lajos Kiss, her main coach; Gudmundur Brynjolfsson, who coaches her primarily on floor exercise; and her mother, Katalin Újszigeti, who coaches her on balance beam. Újszigeti, the 1978 Hungarian all-around champion, competed at the 1978 and '79 Worlds.

Although Suto has been training since age 4, she has come into her own relatively late in her career. She placed eighth on vault at the 2011 FIG Challenge Cup of Maribor, Slovenia. The same year she made her worlds debut in Tokyo. Suto, who will turn 21 on Oct. 8, is also eager to compete in Antwerp with her boyfriend, 2010 European vault champion Tomi Tuuha of Finland.

In this IG Online interview, Suto describes the challenges she has faced throughout her career, and the new motivation she has found heading into Antwerp and beyond.


IG: This will be your second time at worlds, the first being Tokyo. How different are you as a gymnast, and how are you better prepared for Antwerp, than you were in Tokyo two years ago?

AS: The world championships in Tokyo were one of my first international competitions representing Iceland, and the whole experience of such a great competition was amazing, but it also made me really nervous. Before getting up on the podium, I had no idea of what it was going to be like, and somehow it took my focus away. Two years have passed and I feel more experienced and secure. Ready for the big task!

IG: You are listed to compete all-around in Antwerp. On which apparatuses do you think you have the best chances, and why?

AS: Bars and beam. I honestly don't have a high difficulty value, compared with the world-class gymnasts, but I keep my routines clean. Some people like to say that I always play it safe. It is true, but playing it safe keeps me calm and confident before the green flag goes up, and that way I manage to perform well.

IG: Your mom competed in two world championships. What kind of advice has she offered to you as you get ready for Antwerp?

AS: As a mother, she tells me to be myself and enjoy the progress. As a coach, she wants me focused and to keep working hard. She taught me to be confident, and not to compare myself with others. It is me against myself.

IG: How, when and why did your family move from Hungary to Iceland?

AS: I was born in Hungary and both of my parents are Hungarian. My mom was coaching at a club in Budapest when a group of Icelandic gymnasts came for a training camp. During that time, she was offered to come and coach in Reykjavík, and it seemed like a great opportunity, so she took the job. It was a hard thing for my family to pack our bags and just leave, but we knew it was for the best. After the move, I picked up the language pretty quickly, so I had no problems with fitting in, and everything worked out well.

IG: You seem to be stronger now than you were as a teenager. Why do you think you are fitter and more motivated now?

AS: I learned a lesson. Everybody struggles once in a while for different reasons. For me, it was my weight. After getting my Icelandic citizenship, I began to travel more to international competitions, and I simply wasn't used to it, and it made me really stressed. When the season ended in 2011, I felt like I deserved a short break, so I took it. I allowed myself too much and when I got back to the gym, I wasn't able to get myself back in shape and continue where I left the year before. My chances of making the Icelandic national team for the competition season of 2012 quickly faded away.


Suto and boyfriend Tomi Tuuha (Finland)

It took me more than a year to find the right way to get back on track, and through this struggle I learned to appreciate the sport more. They say that you want something the most when you can't have it. I wasn't able to do gymnastics because of my weight, and it was making me feel so lost and disappointed. But I had no interest in giving up, and I kept fighting. Now that I finally made it through the hard times, I feel responsible and committed. I love gymnastics, and I appreciate being able to do what I love. As a teenager, I didn't realize how important it was to me.

IG: When and how did you and Tomi get acquainted and how long have you been dating?

AS: I don't know where to start. It began at the world championships in Tokyo. We met each other first in the audience, watching the competition. It was such a long trip that we really had time to talk, and the fact that we are so different from each other kept us interested. I made a lot of friends there, but every time I saw or talked to him, I felt that he was more than just a new friend to me. After we got home we tried to talk it over, and we knew we must spend more time together to see if it was meant to be.

IG: How do you manage to keep your relationship going when you live in different countries?

AS: It didn't start out as a serious "thing" but somehow we made it happen. And honestly, it is really hard! He is a full-time gymnast in Helsinki and my studies keep me in Reykjavík so it is really challenging to make plans together. Some people think I'm crazy for having a long-distance relationship, and I am honestly having troubles with describing what I feel, especially when seeing him after such a long time of being apart, but it's all worth it. Finally, we made a plan. After I finish my studies, I'm moving to Helsinki, so that keeps both of us positive.

IG: How is Tomi helping you prepare for Antwerp?

AS: He keeps me motivated all the time. We are both training hard and know that it's not easy. His experience in training and competing through the years made him a professional, and he knows what he is doing. This keeps him secure, and now he shares it all with me. I've learned a lot from him. We both have bad days at the gym but we manage to help each other out with positive thoughts.

IG: How will you manage to stay focused on your own competition in Antwerp, but also follow how Tomi is doing?

AS: In my case, it's easy. I feel well-prepared and ready to go out and do my best, representing Iceland, but still able to have him in the back of my mind. It's a little different for Tomi. He is known for his vaults, and he wants to keep it that way. He really wants to do well and be one of the best. For that, he needs more focus, yet it doesn't mean we need to ignore each other. He keeps it all together. We are counting the days and getting excited about finally meeting again, but when it comes to competition trips, gymnastics comes first.

International Gymnast Magazine Related Features:
"Icelandic Warm-up" -feature on IG's visit to Gerpla (November 2012)
"Fearless Finn" – Tomi Tuuha interview/photo gallery (December 2012)
"Hope in Helsinki" – IG's visit to Finnish club (January 2013)
"She's Keeping Her Cool" – feature on Gerpla gymnast Sigga Bergthorsdottir (October 2012)

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