We recently caught up with former U.S. national team member Polina Shchennikova, a freshman at the University of Michigan. Acclaimed for her elegant lines and artistic approach to the sport, Polina is getting ready to begin her NCAA career. In this Q&A, she discusses her current training, her elite career, and new goals.

Polina Shchennikova: “I cannot wait to start the season.”

Inside Gymnastics: How is your training going?
Polina Shchennikova: Training has been going very well. I am consistently doing my shoulder therapy to help get it stronger, which is helping me regain my skills every day. The team has been very supportive and they have been cheering me on here at Michigan. I have had to make adjustments to the training, but I love it here!

Inside: What made you choose to compete in NCAA at Michigan?
Polina: I chose to compete for Michigan because of the constant support the team and the coaches have shown me. This team has so much to offer and I have so much to learn from them! I cannot wait to start the season with them!

Inside: What are you most looking forward to as a Michigan student and as a collegiate gymnast?
Polina: I still can’t believe I’m a college student-athlete! I am looking forward to the experience here at Michigan as a student and collegiate gymnast. This school has so many different and unique opportunities that are enjoyable and beneficial to my future. Training with this team has been an incredible experience so far and I can’t wait until the season actually starts and I get to experience competing as a collegiate gymnast for the first time!

Inside: What were some of the highs and lows of your elite career?
Polina: I think a high in my elite career would definitely [be] my experience on the national team. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I guess my lows would have to be that I didn’t get a chance to compete at the Olympic Trials. That was a goal I had set for myself, but I wasn’t healthy enough to compete. Overall, I am still happy with what I have accomplished. It wasn’t an easy path to follow, but I did, and I am proud of everything I did accomplish in my elite career. Now I am ready for this new path in my collegiate career.

Inside: Do you think you’ll ever return to elite?
Polina: I have thought about it more than once, but I am happy with what I accomplished and I am happy with where I am and who I am because of my elite career.

Inside: Do you think you might coach gymnastics someday?
Polina: It’s a possibility! I haven’t decided what I want to do or who I want to be, but I hope to figure that all out soon.

Inside: What are your goals for your first year at Michigan?
Polina: For my first year at Michigan, my athletic goals are to continue with my rehab and get back into competition form. I want to contribute to this team whenever and wherever they need me. Academically, I want to continue to study and push myself to get good grades. I also want to have a sense of what I want to do toward the end of my freshman year.

Inside: Are you training any new skills?
Polina: Right now, I am taking it day by day and working on getting my strength and endurance back. I am not at the moment, but I have talked about trying new skills once I get to that point.

Inside: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Polina: GO BLUE!!!! #moneyinthebank

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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