Manassas Journal Messenger | Crowning moment for Iakounina


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Victoria Iakounina hopped onto the top step of the award’s podium at Parkettes Gymnastics Center and thought back on the 14-year journey that brought her to this moment of unprecedented personal achievement.

She’s spent almost her entire life in gyms like the one she was standing in now — nine years in her native Uzbekistan and five more in the U.S. — competing month after month, year after year against some of the best athletes in the world.

In all that time, Iakounina has never been in it for the glory, but somewhere along the way glory found her anyway. Now, it was draped in the form of a gold medal around her neck.

“It was exciting, but it was also very emotional for me,” she said. “It was the last time I’ll compete in that gym.”

The entire 2003 season has been a whirlwind of conflicting emotions as Iakounina’s Cardinal Gymnastics club career comes to an end. She’s accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in Level 10, in school too for that matter. But for the 18-year-old Forest Park senior, there was something unexpectedly delightful about winning her first Region 7 all-around championship.

“I didn’t go in expecting to win. Winning was just an added bonus,” said Iakounina, who scored a 37.55 in the all-around to edge Alyssa Mealey of Ricochets by five-hundreths of a point.

“This is a really strong region,” she added. “Once you’re at this level, everyone is good. It’s a matter of how many mistakes you make that day.”

On a day dedicated to graduating seniors, Iakounina was nearly flawless. She returned home from Allentown, PA with three gold medals, one silver and an invitation to compete in the Level 10 national championship meet next week at the United States Air Force Academy.

“This is my third consecutive year going to nationals. I’m looking forward to the trip,” Iakounina said. “I’m really excited about nationals because we have such a good team.

“I wanted to make the team,” she continued. “I wasn’t after the win. I was after qualifying for nationals.”

The top seven all-arounders advanced to nationals and Iakounina made it clear that she belongs on the team by capturing the regional balance beam (9.525) and vault (9.6) titles.

“I didn’t add too many new tricks this year,” said Iakounina, who also won a silver medal for a floor exercise routine that was highlighted by a roundoff, backhandspring, double pike tumbling pass. “My goal was to perfect all the skills I already have.”

In four meets this season, Iakounina relied almost exclusively on the routines that earned her a Division I scholarship to Michigan State.

At the Level 10 state competition on March 22, that strategy resulted in what Iakounina described as “the best meet of my career.”

In addition to winning her second state all-around championship with a personal-best score of 38.075, Iakounina received personal-best scores on vault (9.7), balance beam (9.65) and floor exercise (9.55).

“That meet was a great highlight of my gymnastics career,” Iakounina said. “The goal is always to hit, but you have four [routines] you need to make. The biggest thing was all four of my routines came together. After the last two meets, I’m more than fulfilled with my club career.”

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