Interview with Sasha Narkevich, Group Silver Medalist from London

For the other crazy fans, who may not speak Russian, I transleted an interview with the Olympic silver medalist from Belarus, Sasha Narkevich. ;-) It always amazes me how modest she is!

—The nervous and hard times of the Olympic games are in the past now. What is the mood of the team?
   The atmosphere, as always, is friendly. We've already started to get in shape slowly. We work as before, no changes.
   Are you cleaning up the old routines as before?
   Yes. For gala demonstrations we will use the old routines, so we will keep working on them until the end of December. After that, we will switch to new ones. Right now Tatyana Evgenievna is looking for music for them.
   What emotions will you remember from London?
   The moment when we performed the last routine. Exciting and unforgettable minutes. It was a great shock for us that before the last performance on the carpet we were 4th. Nobody told us this so when the journalists asked us how we managed to focus and get to second place, we looked at each other and were amazed. Perhaps not knowing this helped us step out in a more focused manner.
   Tatyana Nenasheva knew of this but decided to spare you?
   Obviously, yes.
   How will you remember the Olympic village?
   I lived in a room with Nataliya Leshchik. Every day, we trained, like back home. At night we had celebrations with the medal winners. We all gathered on the street and congratulated those, who won medals. Usually, we came back from training tired, so we would shower, eat, and fall asleep, as we had to get up at 7 am.
   How did jet lag treat you?
   I didn’t feel any changes. These two weeks were very tense in terms of preparation. In other terms, all was as usual.
   You came to the group a year ago and quickly became part of the group. How complicated was it to turn from an “individual” to a “group member”?
   Tatyana Evgenievna helped a lot. Also, the girls on the team always supported me. If I didn’t understand something, they explained all nuances and always encouraged me. We never had arguments. We are like a big family. In the beginning, I accepted this idea without great enthusiasm; I didn’t want to transition to the group exercise. Irina Yurievna (Leparskaya) spoke with me, then Tatyna Evgenievna. The girls helped me tune into the new environment. This way, with efforts by all, I became a “group member.”
   Then your transition appeared as a necessary measure related to the injury of Alina Tumilovich. Now you completely embraced the team and feel absolutely comfortable?
   You could say so.
   What was the hardest?
   Preparing for the Olympic Games. All efforts were focused on the three days of competition. When we found ourselves on the London carpet, we already did not think of anything. Despite the fatigue and difficulty, we moved confidently towards our common goal, the Olympic medal. The preparation for the games, it was a complex challenge. But at the same time there were many joyful moments and events.
   Do you regret parting with your career as an “individual”?
   Marina Goncharova said in a recent interview that the character of the “group member” is different in many ways from those of the “individual.” How apparent was this?
   I could find common ground with anyone. For that reason, I had no problems of this nature.
   Did friends and family meet you with flowers?
   There was a very warm welcome for as at the airport. There were many friends and young gymnasts. All our coaches came to meet us. Lots of greetings, smiles, and positives. At the Dinamo school, the children put together a mini concert for us.
   Your younger sister is also a gymnast. You help her perfect her skills?
   Before, when I trained at “Spartak,” Zhenya and I saw each other a lot more often and I frequently gave her tips on all kinds of nuances, we worked together on all elements, which didn’t work. Now I train with the national team so I don’t know what she is working on. But she seems to be doing well.
   How did you rest after the Olympics?
   Marina Goncharova and I flew to Greece with our moms. We gathered new strength and energy. We distracted ourselves from long periods of weekdays and received new emotions. For me the main condition for good rest is to go away from Minsk and change the scenery.
   Usually athletes prefer active rest…
   We did not settle for lying around either. We had trips, walked around a lot. But, surely, we did no gymnastics. Overall, it wasn’t bad.
   Your friends at the national team have dreams, goals. For example, Ksenia Sankovoch wanted to jump with a parachute, Marina Goncharova, to learn to play the piano. Do you have goals, which you sacrificed because of gymnastics?
   I have never thought of this. Jumping with a parachute is not my thing exactly. (laughs). One of my dreams already came true. Soon, there will be new ones.
   Outside of sports, do you and the girls have common goals?
   Overall, yes. We help each other and often solve different problems.
   This year you enrolled in university. Did you already have your first homework assignments?
   I don’t have stories to tell yet. I've been to the university three times. Exam week is ahead.
   How did your life change after the Olympics?
   Honestly, it’s all like before.
   You have probably had enough with interviews, celebrations, press conferences…
   No. It’s nice when we get congratulated and our efforts are noted. Though I prefer to spend my time on the carpet.
   Many gymnasts are working on more modern programs, include in them contemporary music, elements….
   We are now working on new routines. I hope everyone will like them. We are still looking for music.

Interview with Andrey Prikota


Will Margarita Mamun, the Beautiful Butterfly, Get a Chance to Fly?

With talks of Kanaeva retiring and with Kondakova suffering an injury, Dmitrieva, Merkulova and Mamun remain the top Russian seniors, although various extremely talented juniors will move to the senior category soon.  Many fans think Merkulova is overscored. I don't always agree but, as a personal preference for gymnasts with an elegant style, I would really like to see Margarita Mamun, who always looks as light as a butterfly, represent Russia, or maybe Bangladesh, at world class events. Here is a hoop routine from the WC competition in Tashkent:

Margarita was born on November 1, 1995. She is the 2011 and 2012 Russian national champion and a bronze medalist from the Montreal World Cup event in 2011. At the Russian Nationals this year, Margarita placed higher than Svatkovskaya and Trubnikova. Sadly, Dmitrieva did not participate. I really hope Margarita keeps improving and goes to more GP and WC events. Otherwise, she may get a chance to perhaps join the group, but I think she is unique and would do wonderful work as an individual competitor.