Denis Ablyazin is a Russian artistic gymnast who has made a name for himself in the sport with his innovative and envelope-pushing routines. Even when relatively new to the senior circuit, Ablyazin proved himself as an elite gymnast capable of challenging the traditional boundaries of the sport.
Table of Contents
- Background and Early Career
- Breakthrough to Senior Elite Level
- Innovative Choreography and Skills
- 2016 Olympics
- Fighting Through Injuries
- Tokyo Olympics
- Denis Alblyazin – Legacy and Impact
Background and Early Career
Denis Ablyazin was born on January 11, 1993 in Moscow, Russia. He took up gymnastics at the young age of 5 after his kindergarten teacher noticed his natural athletic abilities and recommended he try the sport. Ablyazin joined the youth program at the famous CSKA Moscow club under the tutelage of coach Andrei Rodionenko.
Ablyazin progressed quickly through the junior ranks, winning his first Russian junior national title on parallel bars in 2006 at just age 13. The following year he won additional junior national titles on floor exercise and pommel horse. His early success marked him as a rising talent in Russia’s powerful gymnastics program.
In 2009, Ablyazin made his international debut at the European Junior Championships, winning a complete set of medals – gold on floor exercise, silver in the all-around and pommel horse, and bronze on rings. His impressive performance signaled the arrival of a new star on the junior circuit.
The following year, Ablyazin cemented his status by winning the all-around gold and pommel horse silver at the 2010 European Junior Championships. He also contributed to the Russian team’s gold medal finish.
Breakthrough to Senior Elite Level
Ablyazin graduated to the senior ranks in 2011 at the age of 18. Though he was still young for a senior gymnast, Ablyazin proved he could hold his own with more experienced competitors. At the 2011 European Championships, he contributed to the Russian team’s silver medal and qualified for two individual event finals.
However, Ablyazin’s real breakthrough came at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. There he won gold in the team event and a complete sweep of the individual apparatus finals – gold on floor, pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars and horizontal bar. His dominant performance served notice that Ablyazin was now a world-class gymnast ready to challenge the traditional powerhouses.
Later that year at the World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, Ablyazin anchored the Russian squad to a team silver medal and won an individual bronze on the pommel horse. His medals were an affirmation of his elite abilities.
Innovative Choreography and Skills
One aspect that sets Ablyazin apart is his unusual and innovative routines. He has introduced skills and choreography never before seen in competition, challenging ideas about what is possible in gymnastics.
At the 2015 World Championships, Ablyazin unveiled his new horizontal bar routine featuring a release combination nobody had ever performed – a Cassina to Kolman transition. His originality helped him win horizontal bar gold, becoming the first Russian to ever win that event at Worlds.
Ablyazin is also known for his creative floor exercise routines filled with unique skills and tumbling passes. At the 2017 World Championships, he performed an Arabian double front with a full twist – another skill making its debut on the world stage. His novelty has brought increased attention and interest to the sport.
“I don’t like repeating things other people do,” Ablyazin said in an interview. “I always want to try new things, surprise people.”
This willingness to experiment has made Ablyazin hugely popular with fans who anticipate what he will come up with next. His innovative approach has expanded ideas about what’s possible in gymnastics.
Going into the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ablyazin was seen as an outside medal contender on floor exercise and horizontal bar. However, he failed to make any individual event finals after uncharacteristic mistakes in preliminaries. He also contributed a disappointing performance in the team final where Russia finished 4th.
Despite his subpar showing in Rio, Ablyazin did not dwell on the disappointing result. In an interview afterward he said, “In sports, you have to leave your mistakes behind you. You can’t carry them with you, thinking about what you could have done differently.”
True to his own advice, Ablyazin was able to put Rio behind him and rebounded with strong showings at the 2017 World Championships, winning horizontal bar silver while debuting his innovative Arabian double front twist on floor exercise.
Fighting Through Injuries
Like many high-level gymnasts, Denis Ablyazin has had to battle through his share of injuries throughout his career. A particularly devastating blow came in early 2018 when he tore his ACL in training. The injury forced him to miss the entire year, including the 2018 World Championships.
After surgery and an arduous rehabilitation process, Ablyazin successfully returned to competition in 2019, determined to regain his world-class form. He won gold on parallel bars at the Russian National Championships that year, showing he still had the talent that made him an innovative force in the sport.
More injury troubles came in late 2019 when Achilles tendon problems caused Ablyazin additional setbacks. However, he has persevered through the physical challenges, demonstrating the spirit and determination of a true champion. Even with the risks of serious injury, Ablyazin has not allowed fear to make him give up the sport he loves.
Going into the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the now 28-year-old Denis Ablyazin was once again viewed as a challenger, rather than a frontrunner, due to his injury-plagued recent seasons. However, his competitive fire was still burning strong.
In the qualifications round, Ablyazin hit solid routines on four events – floor, vault, parallel bars, and high bar – qualifying for the parallel bars final. Though he was disappointed to miss out on floor finals, Ablyazin remained focused on contending for a parallel bars medal.
In the parallel bars final, Ablyazin had the meet of his life, sticking his extremely difficult routine to earn a score of 15.800 – the highest on the event by any gymnast. When the last competitor’s score was announced, Ablyazin had his first-ever Olympic gold medal, becoming the first Russian to win parallel bars gold.
The Tokyo Olympics ended up being Ablyazin’s Olympic redemption story after his previous disappointments in Rio. His gold medal was made even more special by the adversity he overcame from career-threatening injuries. His improbable story is a testament to his persistence and determination to never give up on his dreams.
Denis Alblyazin – Legacy and Impact
Now heading towards his late 20s, Denis Ablyazin is approaching the latter part of his career in a sport where athletes rarely compete beyond their early 30s. However, he has already cemented his legacy as one of Russia’s most innovative and boundary-pushing gymnasts.
Abliyzin’s willingness to introduce original skills and take risks with his routines has expanded the boundaries of men’s gymnastics. His trend-setting approach has brought greater interest and attention to the sport from both fans and media.
More than his impact, Abliazin will be remembered for his incredible talent and the joy he brought to audiences with his creative artistry. His gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics was the crowning achievement for a gifted gymnast who persevered through injuries and disappointment.
Though the next generation will eventually take over, the indelible mark Abliazin has left on gymnastics will not be forgotten. No matter what the next chapter brings, Denis Abliazin has already etched his name in history as one of the most innovative and inspiring gymnasts that Russia has ever produced.
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