10/21/2018 10:15:26 AM (GMT+3)

I don't want team to be stressed, says Brazil WAG coach Liukin

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DOHA: The Brazilian women’s team smiled often, easily and with good reason during their training session here at the Aspire Dome on Friday, according to team head coach Valeri Liukin.

“I’m very happy with these girls,” Liukin told worldgymdoha18.com about his team as they prepare for the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships that will begin here from October 25. “They work extremely hard and have a huge desire to do gymnastics. That’s very, very important.”

The Brazilian gymnasts’ happy demeanours reflect the self-assurance that their pre-Doha diligence has inspired, said the 51-year-old.

“We’re working on a lot of technical issues, but I’m trying to build their confidence,” said Liukin. “This is very important. I don’t want them to be stressed because stress is not great at all, and if I can build their confidence, then they can smile. I guess we’re doing the right thing if you see this.”

Liukin quickly admitted, however, that the Brazilian gymnasts’ cheerful industriousness is not simply the result of his short-term influence on them.

A double gold medalist for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, Liukin has spent decades coaching in the US. He coached his daughter Nastia to the All-around gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

“I’m learning. I’m new there,” said Liukin, who in recent months has been commuting between the USA and Brazil. “I’m not going to tell you that I’ve done it all. The work was done before me, by their personal coaches. I’m trying to clean up and make some little improvements. The coaches have done their jobs. Everything belongs to them. I’m just trying to organise them and be a positive leader as much as I can.”

Although standout gymnast Rebeca Andrade will see limited action following a knee injury in 2017, Liukin said he believes Brazil can achieve its goal of advancing to the team final.

Liukin compared the loss of Andrade’s potentially high All-around scores here to a hypothetical scenario in which the US would compete without three-time world All-around champion Simone Biles.

Biles and her team-mates, who trained alongside the Brazilians on Friday, are favoured to win the team gold.

“Rebeca is a leader and was always at the top,” Liukin said. “It’s very difficult for a team without their leader. It’s almost like, pretend Simone is not here. That’s difficult. But they are working extremely hard and hoping for the team final. That’s the goal.”