Petrounias puts title defence, team ahead of shoulder pain
DOHA: Despite looming shoulder surgery, defending rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece considers his title defence and team spirit to be forces stronger than pain as he readies for the 48th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships which starts with the qualifications on Thursday.
“It’s because of my passion for the sport. The feelings I get every time I’m competing and supporting my team,” Petrounias told www.worldgymdoha18.com after Monday’s podium training. And, also try to reach my goal to win again.”
Petrounias said that, although he will undergo surgery on his left shoulder on November 5, he is able and eager to fight for his third consecutive world rings title and help his team place among the top 24.
The top 24 teams will advance to the 2019 Worlds in Stuttgart, and one step closer to qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“Of course, I have pain in my shoulder. But when I was thinking about it, I’ve had pain for 10 months and I can handle it for two more weeks,” said Petrounias, the 2016 Olympic rings champion. “The doctors said it’s not in danger of getting worse and ‘If you can handle it, you can go.’ That’s what made me decide.”
Petrounias said that, between now and the start of the competition, he will make his rings routine as title-worthy as it was at the European Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in August, where he also won gold.
“I feel stronger than ever, but I have not had many routines yet,” he said. “The problem from Europeans till now was the time, not the pain. In order to be fit you need to make trainings. I can handle the pain, but I couldn’t handle the two-month difference between Europeans and Worlds. So now that I’m here, I’m going to make it. I’m confident.”