The Modest Swan Sasha Narkevich

I read a very interesting article about Aliaksandra Narkevich in "Minsk Courrier" (Минский Курьер,http://mk.by/2010/12/08/34324/). For this article, the autor Galina Malahovskaya interviewed the director of the high school Sasha Narkevich attends and described Sasha's schedule and grades. Sasha teachers are all amazed by her concentration and diligence as she earns mostly A grades in school. Her math teacher remembers that she did an excellent job on a math test just a day after an important world competition. Sasha herself admits that, when in Minsk, she doesn't go to bed until midnight because of her studies, and then wakes up at 5:40 in order to leave the house at 6:10 am for training.

I don't know how many tests Sasha took after the world cup in Montreal, but she certainly won two gold and two silver medals. Here are some of her best moments with hoop and ball that we recorded:

Sasha's mother, Tatiana Anatolievna Narkevich, explains that Sasha started training gymnastics at the tender age of 4. She was also learning to play the piano, loved dancing and could do a split since she was very little. Nobody in the family thought about sports until grandma Olya, who was involved in basketball and skiing in her youth, took Sasha to the a gymnastics training center. Of the 30 girls in her training group, Sasha was the only one who reached the level of performing in international events.

When she was 13, Sasha won the gold with hoop at the European Junior Championship. At this point she was assigned a salary of 400 rubles per month and two weeks of vacation per year, usually in the summer, as well as a stipend from the President of Belarus and an award from the government for her successful performance.

These funds could hardly cover even her leotards, as gymnastics leotards cost over $1,000 each and she needs at least 4 per year. That is why Sasha's mother makes her leotard herself. "Otherwise, it would be unaffordable. Our other daughter, Evgenia, is also a gymnast, and she is in 6th grade. Even though her leotards are still cheaper, the two add up," she says.

Sasha's mother is always there to support the young gymnsast. Sometimes coach Olga Aleksandrovna calls her saying "We need help. Sasha is tired, she feels bad about herself. We need to inspire her." And mom always finds the magic words. There are many stories in the gym not just about how hard Sasha works, nor about her technique and beauty, but also about her character and will power. She gathers all of her strength right before competition and her strong spirit shows as she shines on the carpet.

Sasha especially likes travel but she always reads a book while flying. She doesn't follow a specific diet. In fact, two years ago, her coach asked her to eat more! She now weighs 45 kilograms for her height of 168 cm but used to weigh less.

I was fortunate to watch Sasha Narkevich live in Montreal. Being in the presence of such an amazingly talented athlete is always great, and, with Sasha, I was especially admiring her concentration and her precision, and her determination to execute every element with great amplitude and clarity. She stepped on that carpet with the intention to perform flawlessly but didn't look like a primadonna, more like a focused perfectionist. I don't think she fully understands that she is an international star and one of the best gymnasts of the 21st century. Outside the carpet, she appears very down-to-earth and approachable. But, on the carpet, she transforms into a strong and elegant swan:

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