By Anna Rose Johnson

Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari tumbled her way onto the international scene in Aarhus at the 2006 World Championships, where she captured the all-around title with her dynamic style. The next ten years have been a whirlwind for Ferrari, who has competed in three Olympic Games, placing fourth in the floor finals in 2012 and 2016. Ferrari recently gave us the latest updates on her career, including her comeback from surgery in September and her aspirations of coaching gymnasts to the top of the sport.

Inside Gymnastics: Tell us about your experience at the 2016 Olympics!
Vanessa Ferrari: Rio was a very meaningful experience. I arrived after facing a tough preparation [worsened] by the problem in my left Achilles tendon. I’m happy because despite the tendon problem, I competed in the final and [came in fourth], one step away from the podium. [It was the second time I have placed] fourth in the Olympics.

Inside: How is your training going?
Vanessa: At the moment I am in the process of recovery from the [injury and] operation, suffered Sept. 22, 2016, in my left Achilles tendon. At the moment everything [is going] according to plan.

Inside: What are your plans and goals for 2017 and beyond?
Vanessa: For now I am dedicating [myself] to the recovery.

Inside: Are you looking at Montreal 2017 and Tokyo 2020 as possibilities?
Vanessa: [I’m] definitely not in the race [to] return at Montreal; I will not know exactly when I can reenter competition. I just know that if I could [return] my goal [would be] Tokyo 2020.

Inside: You are training any new skills or upgrades?
Vanessa: Because of rehabilitation I cannot do everything I want, but I will give my all, and I will try to study new items based on the new Code of Points.

Inside: Who are some of your favorite gymnasts?
Vanessa: I have no favorite gymnasts; I like to observe all generally.

Inside: Are you working on a new floor routine? 
Vanessa: It is still early to [train a floor] exercise, [I must] first study the elements.

Inside: What is the main thing that drives you to continue to compete?
Vanessa: In my career I have collected all kinds of medals … but [I’m still] missing the Olympic medal. [As long as] I can go on, I will try to [get] it.

Inside: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in this sport over the years?
Vanessa: I learned that to get great results, you must be willing to sacrifice everything and no matter whether you win a medal or not, it matters that you give the maximum based on your ability at that time. I also think that you have to earn everything with your own forces, because nobody gives you anything.

Inside: What was the best moment of your career?
Vanessa: The most beautiful moment I think [was my] world victory of Aarhus in 2006, even though I feel strongly about the medals in Antwerp in 2013 and Sofia in 2014, because [I was coming back] after so many injuries.

Inside: Is there anything else you want to add?
Vanessa: Yes! I embarked on a career as [a coach]. I want to pass all my experience to the younger [gymnasts] to help them on the way to Tokyo in 2020, and would like to get to the Olympics as an athlete and as a coach.

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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