It’s no April Fool’s joke — unless of course the Russian Federation is pranking us all big time.
Russian star Aliya Mustafina voluntarily withdrew herself from next week’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, citing fatigue from having competed in three big meets in the past month.
Mustafina was never formally named to Russia’s Euros roster, which includes new national champion Angelina Simakova, 2016 Olympian Angelina Melnikova, vault specialist Maria Paseka and bars star Anastasia Ilyankova, as well as world all-around champion Arthur Dalaloyan, world bronze medalist Nikita Nagornyy, 2016 Olympic medalists Ivan Stretovich and Denis Abliazin, as well as Dmitry Lankin and Vladyslav Polyashov.
But the 24-year-old did so well at the recent world cups — particularly in Birmingham, where she was the only woman seemingly unfazed by performing under spotlights in a darkened arena — that Russian coach Valentina Rodionenko let it be known that Simakova was out and Mustafina was in for Szczecin.
Apparently Mustafina herself put the k-bosh on that idea. “Aliya herself refused to participate in the European Championship,” Rodionenko told news agency TASS. “Mustafina is at the wrong stage of readiness. She told us that it was hard for her to compete in two consecutive competitions, and the European Championship would be her third start almost without a break. Therefore, we freed her from the European Championship. But it was, I repeat, her decision.”
So there you have it — for today, anyway.