Less than two months ago, Elena Pirozhkova was gearing up to wrestle at the Olympic Games. Now, the 25-year-old faces a new challenge as she prepares for the 2012 World Championships, which are scheduled to be contested Sept. 27-29 in Canada.
Pirozhkova wrestles at the 63-kilogram (138.75-pound) weight class.
Even though Pirozhkova qualified for the women's 2012 world team, she wasn't happy with the way she wrestled in order to earn her spot, she said, as she called her wrestling "sloppy."
"(I just wasn't) really finishing any of my shots," Pirozhkova said in an interview with TheMat.tv. "In my first match, … I didn't come out to win. Once I got up like 2-0, I just felt (like I was) stalling out, which is something I've been working on. Obviously, I didn't work myself into not doing it today."
In her first match at the 2012 Olympic Games, Pirozhkova lost to Latvia's Anastasija Grigorjeva in three periods and was eliminated from the Olympic tournament. In that match, Pirozhkova won the first period 2-0 before losing the second and third periods, 0-5 and 0-2, respectively.
Just months later, Pirozhkova is looking forward to getting back on the mat and competing again with the best wrestlers in the world, she told TheMat.tv.
"I'm definitely really grateful for this opportunity to -- I don't want to say redeem myself, because what's done is done at the Olympics, but I'm definitely ready to move on and improve and get better and get another shot at the world (championships)," Pirozhkova to the website.
By qualifying for the 2012 World Championships, Pirozhkova put herself in a position to represent the United States in her fifth world-championship tournament. Her highest finish came in 2010, when she earned a silver medal. She finished fifth in 2011, seventh in 2009 and eighth in 2008. Pirozhkova also has represented the United States at the University World Championships, where she won gold in both 2008 and 2010.
Even though she has an extensive resume when it comes to international competition, Pirozhkova said she still feels excitement each time she is able to represent the U.S.
"Every time you make a world team it's special," Pirozhkova said during the interview. "It's just really special for me and it's a standard I set for myself."
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Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46.