Thursday, November 24, 2016

Oleg Verniaev's interview

Oleg Verniaev gave a long a fascinating interview to As the interview is in Russian, I am translating it so that all Oleg’s international fans could appreciate it as well. Oleg talks about his plans for the next season, the current state of gymnastics in Ukraine and a bit about his daily non-gymnastics life.
As the interview's very long, I'll translate and post it in four parts. Here's the first one and I'll post the rest during this week.

Q: It’s been three months already since you got your two medals in Rio. Do you fell that something’s changed in you?
A: I went through a lot during these three months, both good and bad, I don’t want to elaborate. But, essentially, everything in my life is the same: warm-up at 7:45am, first training at 10am, second training at 4pm, same old. Although, strangers started recognizing me on the streets, they’re coming to me, congratulating, wishing luck. Recently when I was flying to Germany, a flight attendant recognized me. It’s nice that athletes are getting recognized like that.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Rio games at the moment?
A: I remember the all-around the most. I was so close, almost there, it made me really sad, I got more upset about AA than excited about my gold medal. The thing is, I did a good job, it was one of my best all-around competitions. Many people came to me afterwards saying that the results were unfair, but you can’t really correct the judging mistake.
On one hand, I’m glad that I could challenge Uchimura, on the other hand it’s a pity I didn’t get a score high enough to win. As my coach said, everything would be decided on high bar, and I didn’t do everything I could on high bar. I wasn’t quite at 100% there. I think, I’m the only person who can get sad because of winning a silver medal at the Olympics [laughing].
As we say, if such a score was given, than the judges found the mistakes. I understand that the ahtlete’s name matters, the country matters, and Japan is quite a powerful country in gymnastics. That also played its par. I just competed and did what I could, and getting offended is for weak people. I need to work more and to improve the things for which I got a low score. I had to kick where it hurts, had to be head and shoulders above Uchimura to win. I was only a head above and that wasn’t enough.

Q: Is it hard to compete with the Japanese?
A: Well, the British are also strong, and I was very impressed with the Brazilians. Of course, the Japanese have already “burned” us at the Olympics twice, but I don’t care whether it’s hard.

Q: What did you do on a break after Rio?
A: When we returned, I didn’t show up at the gym for two and half weeks. When all the publicity events were finished, of course, I had to run back to the gym, because Bundesliga started in two months after the Olympics and I had to be in shape. Luckily, I still maintained most of the shape I got into before the Olympics, so the first competition went well.

Q: Was this break enough for you?
A: I’d have like to travel some, but I couldn’t, and looks like I won’t be able to, because I have a few competitions/shows till the end of this year. I also need to do some rehab, I plan on going to Israel for that.
Q: Were there any improvements in the status and situation of artistic gymnastics in Ukraine after Rio? Did you get any money and sponsors?
A: Unfortunately, no. We have a huge issue, the same as 4 years ago, when we had a different Federation president and he signed a contract with Christian Moreau.

According to this contract, we have to compete only in their uniform at any competition. If we use any other uniform, we will be fined. I’ve just got my contract, and, according to it, I will be given one track suit, one t-shirt, one competition uniform and one bag. That is, during competitions I’ll have to compete for 3-4 days in the same shirt. This is just ridiculous. I checked at Rio, out of all medalists, only two were wearing Christian Moreau uniform, me and the Greek [Petrounias]. And the issue is that we can’t find any other uniform sponsorships, so that we could discontinue the Christian Moreau contract. We just don’t have people who could take care of the sponsorship search. Well, Irina Deryugina found a new President for our federation, he immediately started working, organized surgeries for the guys, and shared his plans for the future. I was so glad that we’re finally in a good place, but – boom – we don’t have a president again. There’s nobody to take care of these issues, this is just sad. So, if anyone wants to helps us – talk to me, write to me, we will try to think of something. I go to all these interviews, compete everywhere, so many of my trainings are filmed – if there was a sports company that would offer us a contract, I’d wear their label everywhere.

Second part of the interview 

Third part of the interview

Fourth part of the interview


  1. He keeps going on about how he doesn't want to complain, and 'being offended is for weak people' or whatever - well if that's the case, why does he keep talking about it? He acts like he was clearly the winner and the judges handed the gold to Kohei, when the reality is that it was incredibly close. When things are that tight there's always a possibility that an athlete's country or reputation may subconsciously influence the judges (although personally I think Kohei was better anyway) but it certainly looks like sour grapes if he's trying to claim he was 'a head above' ... that's just not true.
    That said, I do sympathise with his crappy training situation - I really hope they can find someone to help them out.

  2. Well, I think his rants kind of come across worse in translation. It's a pretty common rhetoric in Russian, and complaining about things out of our control and about authorities is a big part of culture. Like, if he went to sue someone or challenge directly - that would mean he's "weak person who can't accept his fate. Complaining, though, or finding sneaky ways around are perfectly culturally acceptable ways to deal with a situation like that. Also, by Russian standards he doesn't complain that much, it's practically nothing:) We complain A LOT!