Translation of the article from slovo.co.ua written by Zoryana Nagrevelna. Enjoy!
Do you think that practicing sport at high levels helps you in life?
They often ask me if I will introduce my child to a sport. Because even the elite athletes, who won the Olympic medals, leave the sport, and can find themselves displaced. Let’s face it, sport is really difficult: you need to sacrifice your time, live away from your parents, your friends, you must put aside your personal life, forget about floury and sweets. Yes, sometimes you train in spite of your own health. Sometimes the load is so unbearable that you can just crawl out of the hall. But you can stand all the difficulties when you have a goal.
I completely devoted myself to the sport. Since my very early age, my dad (who was also an athlete, a swimmer) told me: “Anya, you must be the first who comes in the training hall and the last who leaves. You must work hard to succeed. When you will be 16-18 you will want to leave, try alcohol, go to dance. You could try all this later, you’ll always have these possibilities. But the sports career, unfortunately, is very short. “
It helped me to stay focus. Even during the weekends, I watched again my routines and analyzed others. When all the other gymnasts went to watch romantic comedies, I watched some motivational sport’s movies. I was crazy about gymnastics and madly wanted to win an Olympic medal. And I got it.
Therefore, I advise you to let your children practice a sport. And my child will definitely try one. But it’s necessary to separate professional sports and amateur. At first, It’s better to let your child get acquainted with different kinds of sports. Try this and that, then you can decide which one you like more. There won’t be no sense If he has to be forced. You have to guide your child, to see if there is a predisposition.
Or, as in my case, there must be a crazy desire to succeed. All the most successful athletes say that the burning eyes are the most important quality in sport. During my childhood, nobody predicted that I would have achieved high results in gymnastics, but I really wanted to.
Does sport help you in everyday life? For example, to be more focused, to overcome yourself and your limits?
Yes, of course. During pregnancy, I just wanted to lie down on the sofa and do nothing. But I understood that I had to keep an eye on myself and go to the gym at least to make some physical activities. Sport has taught me discipline.
After childbirth, I quickly returned to my usual form: literally in a month and a half. Although the doctor advised me that the first 2 months I should have just rest, but I started a little bit earlier. Now I lost 15 kilograms.
Recently, two films opened in the Ukrainian cinemas, both were about Olympic athletes. “Molly’s game” is about an American athlete who enter the poker business, and “I, Tonya” (about Olympic skater Tonya Harding tn). In both movies, It’s clearly shown the influence of parents. In the first movie, there’s an episode where the main character is asked if she had demanding parents. She replied that there aren’t unpretentious parents in the Olympians. Is it really true?
Parents play a key role in the life of an athlete. Sometimes I really wanted to leave everything and live an ordinary life, and spend my days outside the training hall, especially when something didn’t work out or I received low scores during the competitions. At such moments there is a desire to quit everything, to study at the university, to go for a walk or to the cinema. It’s in those moments that the parents help you: they guide you through the life’s path. Parents should be an authority.
I experienced that, my mom was my first coach. We talked about rhythmic gymnastics all the time even at dinner: we discussed about my routines or about weight. It’s very difficult. But now after that I completed my career, and after everything I achieved, I want to thank her for bringing me in the hall on Sunday, for keeping under control my weight. She pretended more from me than from the other girls.
You train children. You have to be severe. Can you be motivational in a different way? With compliments, for example?
It’s the wisdom of the coach. You need the whip and the carrot. But It’s possible only If there’s the will to listen, otherwise there won’t never be medals. A coach has to be demanding. Everyday. There must be discipline. Therefore, not every gymnast loves their coaches.
Is your career over?
As gymnasts – yes. Now I’m realizing myself as a woman.
Everything happened very quickly in my life. After realizing one of my dreams – the medal in Rio de Janeiro – I immediately realized another one. My baby. And I have no regrets about the fact that at the age of 16-17 instead of having fun with my friends, I worked hard. Now I have a lot of free time to get all I missed – I haven’t lost anything, but I realized myself as one of the gymnast who wrote her name in the history of rhythmic gymnastics.
Now I’m a mom. But when you have 19 years of sport’s career, it’s impossible to get out of it – your life turns around it. At the moment I’m having master classes all around the world. My schedule is full: offers from America, Japan, Mexico, European countries. I show to the kids what they can learn.
After each master class, children comes to me with a lot of questions. One of the most frequent is: how can’t I be afraid before the competition? I even want to write a book about it, but I haven’t time.
We have a very poor sport’s psychology in Ukraine. And this is such an important aspect!
Everyone is prepared for the Olympics, but It’s the one who has a strong character who wins. To get prepared psychologically for the competition – is a separate training.
And how can you accept psychologically the result?
I watched a lot of motivating videos, I read the amazing book “Mental Athlete”, and worked on myself. And I want to describe this whole process in my book – it is a very valuable experience.
Before the Olympic Games, I wanted to give up, there was no desire to go into the training hall, when I woke up in the morning and thought about the amount of work that had to be done, I had a struggle with myself, I felt my force of will leave. And I told to myself: “Here you are, Anya, you don’t want to go to the gym, and your rivals are already training – and from above He can see everything (I’m a very religious person). So at the most important moment, He will give them a gift, not to you. “
What were the feelings when you got the medal? Did you understand what happened?
It was such a joy! I was insanely grateful to everyone and everything: I have completed my entire program impeccably. The slightest mistake – and I could have loose everything. But during the Olympic days everything turned out perfectly. That was the peak, the limit of happiness. But I was completely ready for it: it was my second Olympics. In the first I entered the final and took the tenth place. The second time I was very conscious and prepared.
I’m so charged right now! Just want to take the children to a classes, and go myself to the training hall.
Yes, sport is a salvation. In addition, you can become a star – everyone has a chance!