By Anna Rose Johnson

Ukraine’s Iryna Krasnianska has always been involved in the sport of gymnastics. She began training at the age of 5 in 1992 and quickly excelled at the elite level, making her first World Championships team in 2003. She made two finals at those Worlds, a remarkable accomplishment for a first-year senior. Iryna subsequently qualified to the 2004 Olympics, but the greatest moment of her career was when she won beam gold at 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. Her gold medal-winning performance combined superb strength with exceptional elegance, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. We recently caught up with the talented Iryna, who now coaches at Waller’s GymJam Academy in California.

Inside Gymnastics: What have you been up to lately?
Iryna Krasnianska: [For the] past 4 years I’ve been working at GymJam Academy as a gymnastics coach for levels 8 through 10. Also, I got involved with the elite program and we are making progress there too. I spend [my] spare time with my family—my husband and our lovely daughter.

Inside: Can you compare coaching and competing? Which do you prefer?
Iryna: These are two different planets for me. Being in gymnastics most of my life as a gymnast certainly helps me a lot by giving me insight and understanding of many aspects of the world of this sport, but I found that to learn something is different from being able to teach the very same thing. So I am constantly learning, too. And I must say I enjoy it a lot. When I was a gymnast, I enjoyed being a gymnast; now it only makes sense to use my experience expanding it with new knowledge to help young girls achieve success in gymnastics. So, while coaching and competing go hand in hand, they are hard to compare.

Inside: What was it like to compete for Ukraine?
Iryna: It was a great experience and a very important part of my life. I felt great honor to have a chance to represent Ukraine on a world stage.

Inside: What are some of your favorite gymnastics memories?
Iryna: Winning gold at a World Championship is definitely at the top of the list for me. But going to Olympic Games, being part of the movement, is an amazing experience too and definitely created a lot of good memories.

Inside: What was your favorite skill to compete?
Iryna: [My] beam mount was probably the best. I remember I always was applauded for it.

Inside: How do you feel that artistry in gymnastics has changed since your competition days?
Iryna: Things changed a lot in that regard. I think artistry took a step back for the skill difficulty. This is the direction the sport of gymnastics is taking right now. It can be seen in the elements and the routines that [have been] getting more difficult lately.

Inside: Tell us a little about coaching at GymJam!
Iryna: It is a great place to be and I am a proud GymJam family member. I have a lot of fun working there and gain a lot of experience working with 3 former Olympians and other great coaches.

Inside: Would you consider coaching elite gymnasts?
Iryna: I started working with the elite program just recently and [I’m] still trying to understand the complexity of it. It obviously has a lot of challenges, but it is a very rewarding path. It sounds great, but I know a little bit about how hard it can be. So I’m cautiously optimistic about my attitude towards it.

Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Iryna: I’m very happy with where I am right now. I have a loving family and an interesting and rewarding profession. What else is there?

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Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com