In the third part of the interview Oleg Verniaev talks about his plans for the next quad and for the New Year celebration.
The original interview is in Russian and you can read it here.
Q: Are you going to try to get into all the finals at Euros and Worlds?
A: Yes, if I can. It depends on my routines. For instance, in Switzerland I had a 7.2 pbars routine, and if I do the same routine next quad, it’ll stay 7.2. However, if I don’t manage to do my Healy, my difficulty falls to 6.6. automatically, because Healy is an E element, and my score counts one more D element instead of E.* I need to either have some other elements to have room for error or train this skill until I can do it perfectly every time.
*I frankly didn’t get this part, because in new COP Healy is D. Was it E in the last quad and Oleg just doesn’t know yet that it’s been downgraded? Or does he mean some other element and there was a mistake in the article? Can anyone with MAG knowledge help?
Q: What do you like or dislike about fans’ behavior and what they say online? You now have a lot of fans, all different. How do you manage?
A: There are people who write normal stuff, but there are some who write things that I show to my friends in shock, I won’t say what things, but they’re really horrible. There are pleasant comments, but some will just blurt something that makes you speechless. I always read everything, and when there are a lot of compliments I’m slightly uncomfortable. I don’t like fans who are obsessed, who stalk all my connections and ask me questions why some friend did something, and I don’t even know what they’re talking about.
Q: How do you feel on the competition days? Are you nervous, stressed, focused, thinking only about the competition, or it’s just a regular day, when you train in the morning, rest and try not to think about the routines?
A: If it’s a serious competition, I can’t sleep. During the Olympics, I only managed to fall asleep at 4am. Otherwise, until I get to the competition hall, I don’t care whether it’s a competition day. I wake up, get a contrast shower, pack my bag, wait for the coach and I’m ready to fight.
Q: What was the hardest thing for you on the journey from London to Rio?
A: The hardest was that at every competition my coach told me that I’ve won already and set the bar high, so I have to keep it that way. And every time I need to train more and more to keep the bar high, I have more responsibility. To stay on top is the hardest.
Q: What are your thoughts on the fact that people started to throw dirt on all the officials who have to do with sports in Ukraine?
A: Yeah, I read what people are saying. For them, Sergey Nazarovich [Bubka] is bad, and the sports minister is bad, everyone’s bad. They’re always complaining that our minister of sport doesn’t look like an athlete and stuff. You know, how from 2008 we weren’t getting new equipment, and there were many ministers, but only the current one finally got us new equipment. He’s helping us, supporting us, we’re moving forward. Sergey Nazarovich bought us the new floor, gave us a push. They’re helping us, so we’re very grateful.
Q: Is there something that needs to be changed in the Ukrainian sport?
A: Laws need to be changed, I’ve talked about this before. For example, in Germany, I was told, sponsoring gymnastics is tax deductible, so big companies invest in gymnastics and get deductions on their taxes. If we had a law like that, everything would be different. Companies need to pay taxes anyway somehow. They can choose to pay taxes directly, or they can choose to invest in sports, advertise themselves through this and do a good deed for us.
Q: What do you feel when you’re standing on the podium with a gold medal and hearing the Ukrainian anthem playing because of you? Are you less excited now because it happened many times?
A: Well, you know these memes “bang-bang-bang, Batya v zdanii”*, so when I’m standing there I feel like that, like here I am and I did my job. Really, it’s a great moment when your job is rewarded by a gold medal, all the country is supporting you and you’re giving them the gift of the national flag raised and the anthem played. At this moment, I’m not thinking anything, I’m just standing there and enjoying it. That feeling never diminishes, I’m always standing and пкшт акщь уфк ещ уфкю
*These are Russian memes based on the song “Batya v zdanii” [Daddy in da house] by MC Hovanskiy, Russia recording artist. The memes usually feature some badass person and this phrase. I’m including the link to the video if you want to watch, but basically, the meaning of the phrase in this context is kind of like “I’m the king of the world”.
Q: Are you playing football? [for Americans, they mean soccer] You were recently seen at FC Shakhtar’s practice. Who of the players are your friends? Would you like to try out for the team? As Usain Bolt trains with Borussia and can even play if needed. What do you think about this idea?
A: I can train anywhere, but it doesn’t mean that I would play a real game. I mostly play football on Sony Playstation, and sometimes we play on floor in the gym during practice. I mostly in touch with Pyatov, Stepanenko and Rakistkiy from FC Shakhtar.
Q: I know that you’re competing a lot and you’re dreaming about vacation. What kind of vacation do you prefer? Active or passive? What do you choose: to lie in sand on a sea coast or not to stay still, keep climbing, running, walking somewhere?
A: Climbing, running and walking is really not for me, I’ve very lazy. I like to lie at the beach.
Q: We saw your 7.2 pbars in Switzerland. Does it mean that you’re going to compete this routine at Euros and Worlds next year? Or it’s not ready yet? Will you be adding difficulty on other apparatuses?
A: Of course, we’ll be trying to change and add something, because you can’t stay in one place, younger athletes are always behind, pushing and trying to pass us. Regarding the pbars, I’ve been training this routine for a long time now and I’ll be competing it. I was in Germany and my coach said that it’s ok not to finish the routine, but we added a new element, and this element has to be done all the time.
Q: You talked in one of the post-Rio interviews about wanting to start a Verniaev foundation. How’s it going, will it be possible? Or it will be killed by bureaucracy?
A: It’s turned out to be not that simple, so for now I’m not doing anything about it, I just don’t have enough experience.
Q: After the Rio Olympics you became much more popular. Do you have an official fan club or some group on a social network?
A: Of course, I’m on all the social networks myself, and there’s also a group, girls are in charge of it. I’m also posting all the news myself.
Q: Do you spend a lot of time on social networks?
A: When I have time, I go online. My phone’s always with me, if there’s something important, I’, answering right away, otherwise I find time to answer later.
Q: What’s your New Year wish?
A: At this moment, I only wish that everyone will be healthy – my friends, parents, coaches. Health is the most important thing and I’ll take care of the rest. And, of course, I wish for the war in our country to stop, for all the problems to end, so that we could start growing and using our potential. Because our country can do a lot, but we’re at the bottom for now. That’s what I want. We just need to be kinder and more positive and to love other people.
Q: What are your plans for the New Year’s Eve?*
A: Depends on who’s coming to the party. Last year we had an amazing night, it was just me and two friends, we got into a car with lots of champagne and drove around the city. Of course, I wasn’t drinking, because I was driving. One of my friends is in KVN**, so he’s got a great sense of humor. I had a loudspeaker that I brought from Germany, so we were yelling jokes from the car window. If we saw a fun company, we would stop and offer champagne for a poem***, for example. Talked to everyone, offered food and drinks, had fun. We didn’t organize anything, but it was a lot of fun. That was not just a regular party at the apartment, very unusual. That was the 4th New Year I spent sober.
*For those unfamiliar with Russian/Ukrainian/Post-Soviet country, we don’t celebrate Christmas. In USSR religious holidays were prohibited, so people celebrated New Year instead of Christmas. It’s the biggest holiday of the year, everything is decorated, there are New Year’s trees, parties, and people get gifts and a long vacation. People celebrate till morning, usually with family and/or friends and they normally drink a lot. You can also find lots of people celebrating in the streets even though it’s cold. Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and only by religious people.
**Wow, I’m explaining a lot of cultural stuff today. This interview was for a local website and quite informal, so the audience of the website would understand all this references, but, of course, international fans are probably unfamiliar.
So, KVN is a humour competition, kind of similar to stand-up, done only in the FSU, hard to explain to foreigners. I found a Wiki article in English about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KVN
*** In the FSU countries there’s a tradition that children get up on a chair, read a poem they memorized and get a gift for their effort. Older people do it too, especially when they’re drunk and it’s a New Year’s party. It’s fun. Some poems can be dirty. In general, we Russians know a lot of poems by heart, because we have to memorize hundreds of them at school.