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Although several factors contributed to Marlies Männersdorfer's all-around victory at last weekend's Austrian Championships, she told that faith in herself carried her to her first senior national title.
"Before the competition started I was pretty nervous, because I wanted to win and I wanted to get rewarded for my hard work," said Männersdorfer, whose score of 48.700 points placed her ahead of silver medal-winning defending champion Jasmin Mader (48.500) and bronze medalist Tamara Stadelmann (46.200) at the 71st annual Austrian Championships held November 4-5 in Mattersburg. "During the competition I was focusing on my performance, not on the outcome, so I stayed focused. The key to my victory was my self-confidence. I knew I did a lot of training this season and I felt pretty good that day, so I knew I had a chance to win."
Männersdorfer, who turned 20 on September 7, said important training and logistical changes contributed to her improvement from the 2015 and 2016 Austrian Championships, both at which she finished fourth all-around.
Until February 2015 she trained 2.5 hours daily, five days per week in Gänserndorf in northeast Austria, just outside of Vienna. "I knew this was not enough and the gym was too small," she said. "We didn't even have a floor area, and on vault we just had 15 meters to run."
Männersdorfer then got an invitation from the national coach to train with him in a larger gym. She accepted and moved to Vorarlberg in western Austria. Two months after Männersdorfer graduated high school in June 2016, she joined the army so she could focus on training.
The ability to concentrate on gymnastics has enabled Männersdorfer to train and compete with more frequency and composure.
"I participated in many more competitions this year than in 2015 or 2016, so I had the chance to gain experience and self-confidence," said Männersdorfer, who is coached by Daniel Rexa (vault, uneven bars and floor exercise) and Katka Rexa(balance beam, floor exercise) at Turnerschaft Jahn-Lustenau at LSZ Dornbirn. "This helped me during the Austrian Championships. Another contributing factor is that I'm doing specific strength training with the help of the coaches of the Olympic Center Vorarlberg."
Männersdorfer's performance in Mattersburg marked a 3.401-point improvement from her all-around result at last month's world championships in Montreal, where she struggled on uneven bars and elsewhere. She said an elbow injury in late July hindered her preparation and hurt her self-confidence heading into Montreal, but she was able to devote the time between Montreal and Mattersburg to bettering her routines.
"I had to take a break for three weeks, so I didn't get the chance to prepare very well for Worlds, and my bars routine wasn't practiced that well," Männersdorfer said. "I was under pressure because I knew I didn't practice as much as I would have needed to. After worlds, I had one spare month in which I could practice normally so I could improve not only my bars routine but also work on my execution."
Männersdorfer's win in Mattersburg has made her even more inspired for important international events of 2018.
"I'm so happy that I won this competition, and I got a lot of motivation out of it to prepare for the next season," she said. "I performed well, and therefore I am confident that I am capable of also doing so on Europeans or worlds next year."
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