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Aleksandra Galkina and Madis Abel’s lives are slowly returning to normal following two months apart when Estonia and Russia went into quarantine following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
When Estonia went into lockdown in March, Galkina returned to her family home 400-kilometres away in St. Petersburg, while Abel remained in Estonian capital Tallinn along with their coach Aleksandar Makarov.
For both dancers the time apart left a longing to return to the dancefloor and build on their success of recent years, success that means they currently sit in fifth place in the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) rankings in Standard.
For two months they were forced to train by themselves to ensure that they were in the best possible shape for when restrictions lifted, and they would once again be able to train together.
“I was practising by myself and did my own exercise,” Galkina said. “I ran, I did yoga, and we had online Zoom lectures, so we could all stay connected.
“As soon as I arrived back in Estonia, I had these two weeks of quarantine, so I wasn’t allowed to go out and go to the studio, but after that finished, we practiced in the studio.”
Galkina was able to return to Tallinn on 18 May when the travel restrictions at the border were lifted to allow Estonian nationals and resident cardholders to enter.
FINDING THEIR RHYTHM
Once back in Tallinn, the 24-year-old Galkina had to undergo a 14-day quarantine period before she and Abel, also 24, could reunite. Once they did the couple quickly found their rhythm.
“It was a little bit difficult to find the balance for the first two or three days, but after that everything was fine,” she said. “It just took a little bit of time to get back in shape.
“I was sitting at home not knowing when I could go back because there was no information. Then they opened the border for foreign passport or ID cardholders so I could go back. As soon as I got back here it was a relief.”
Galkina and Abel have been competing together since 2013 and they leapt into the public’s consciousness by winning gold at the Vancouver 2015 U21 World Championships.
Since then they have been finalists in Standard at the World and European Championships. They finished sixth in the 2019 editions, which took place in Lithuanian capital Vilnius, and Salaspils in Latvia.
They had a good year in 2019 when they won eight World Open gold medals, while their best result in a Grand Slam was a fifth-place finish in Moscow.
The couple identify Stuttgart as their favourite tournament due to the atmosphere that is created in the Kultur and Kongresszentrum Liederhalle, and they enjoyed a seventh-place finish when the German city hosted the 2019 Grand Slam.
ONE LAST GOLD
This year they managed to squeeze in one tournament before the suspension of competition, an International Open in Montichiari near Brescia in Italy where they added another gold to their collection.
While they are desperate to return to competition, the time off has allowed the couple to incorporate new training techniques in a bid to take their dancing to the next level.
“After quarantine our aims changed a bit,” Abel said. “At first it was a regular process of trying to improve everything we see, but during quarantine I took the time to process my mindset to how I approach competition and training.
“Our coach said I should train my mindset to how I view dancing because we had so much free time we could work on smaller details and maybe go deeper into our dancing.”
During quarantine at her family home, Galkina branched out and began to try her hand at a number of new recipes, with her homemade granola a particular favourite with her partner.
Abel, meanwhile, was reunited with his PlayStation and thanks to a request on Insta Stories, he now has a huge list of games that his fans recommend he try.
It helped fill the time before they were reunited, but now they are back where they are happiest, in the practice hall where their focus is on being in the best shape possible for when the season returns.
“Right now, we can’t predict anything,” Galkina said. “We hope that we can get back on track as soon as possible. We really miss the competition and our normal life.”
“We miss the travel,” Abel added. “We miss the competition, we miss the people, we miss the atmosphere.”