Original article link: http://summer.sport-express.ru/gymnastics/reviews/17545/
A very long interview, released on 03-Nov-2011. English translated by Tatiana! Billion Thanks!!! and Thanks catts for a few modifications.
We had to wait for this interview with Olympic Champion of Beijing for more than half of year. Conversation was always delayed because of constant “absence” of Kanaeva due to different competitions. Minsk, Berlin, Montpellier, Brno and Tokyo are just the little part of the list of cities where the 21-year- old gymnast from Omsk was able to perform. But anticipation was worth it.
LOYALTY, LOVE, WORK
– Let me start with the vital question on the threshold of Olympic season: how many new routines of you will we see next year?
– I’ll definitely change 2 routines. We’ve already found music for clubs and hoop. We are still in search of music for ball and ribbon. We don’t want to change already existing programs for something worse, especially on the threshold of Olympic Games.
– Is it useless to ask you to tell us the music you chose?
– It’s not interesting to tell about future programs, they must be watched (smiling). So you’ll see everything at the beginning of next year.
– And when will be the first time you show your Olympic programs?
– For sure I’ll perform them at the Moscow Grand-Prix at the end of February. But possibly I’ll show them in pre-Olympic test event in Londonin the middle of January. It will depend on the preparation of all components for the programs.
– How much time it usually takes from the idea conception to its realization in public?
– It depends. It happens that we create program, work on it but then suddenly realize that it’s not mine. Then everything needs to be changed: ie. new music, etc. But it also can happen that the program we created at the beginning works great. A lot of things depend on the music, the choreographer, the gymnast herself and the mood of main coach.
– The last word on music choice is yours?
– If I don’t like music I say about it. The opinion of gymnasts is important. For example, before Olympics in Beijing the music for my hoop routine was chosen from “Tristan & Isolde”. When I listened to it I was coming out in goose bumps. So that it has never happened yet we made a program with the music that I didn’t like.
– For sure you were asked many times about your favorite figure (image/ role ) during all these years of competition…
– And I always answer that I like to be different. It’s more interesting and for audience as well; people can see absolutely different sides of one gymnast during the 4 routines.
– You say often that it’s necessary to raise the difficulty of routines. How can usual person understand it?
– By general impression. The difficult elements must be executed easily by gymnast so that it wouldn’t stress audience but attract it. So that they wouldn’t sigh: “OMG! It’s so difficult; she will get broken now on the floor”. You shouldn’t do anything that can scare people. Let them admire and say: “Wow! She’s performing it so easily”.
– Unlike the Olympics in Beijing, the AA competition in London will consist of hoop, clubs, ribbon and ball instead of rope. Does it matter for you?
– The gymnast of high level must perform program with any apparatus.
– Can you talk to the chief coach of the Russian team Irina Viner not about gymnastics, but simply about life?
– Of course, if we need some advice we can always ask her.
– Please characterize your personal coach Vera Shtelbaums in 3 words?
– Loyalty, love, work.
Speech for President.
– Do you keep your medals at home or you save them at the bank?
– It’s a secret (laughing).
– Do you collect paper cuttings with your interviews?
– My grandmother did that before. I don’t know if she keeps doing it. I have to ask her.
– How many times did you attend the reception which president hosted in the Kremlin?
– Three times, I think.
– What about the speech you made on one of these receptions last year? Did you prepare it in advance?
– Yes, of course. Before meeting the president I thought of what to speak (laughing). By the way, I was in Spain for the gala performances the day before that reception. Irina Aleksandrovna called me and said I had to come back to Moscow as soon as possible. As result, after visiting the Kremlin, I went back to Spain the same day; because I promised the people that I would perform there.
– You don’t give interview very often because you don’t like to work on self-promotion?
– I consider self promotion and praising yourself are stupid. Let other people do it.
– Ok, you don’t like to praise yourself; but what is it that you don’t like about yourself?
– Oh, I have a lot of shortcomings (laughing). I can be very mean. Sometimes, when it’s unnecessary, I can be the very stubborn.
– But certainly it helps to work…
– Yes, on the one hand. But on the other hand when I’m told: “Don’t do it” and I still do – then I think it’s not very good.
– Do you miss Omsk?
– I left Omsk when I was very young. So I’d rather say that I miss my family (my mom, grandmother, brother and father) who lives there but not the city itself. But of course I remember thatOmskhas given me a lot, including my coach.
– What kind of feelings you had when you were 12, arriving to sport base in Moscow for the first time?
– Actually, at that moment the only thought I had on my head was about being selected for the national team. When children are busy with the things they like, they are focused on reaching their goals rather than what surrounds them.
Heart and soul friendship
– If you see that there are RG competitions being shown on TV, do you change to another channel?
– It depends on my mood. Actually I don’t really like watching my own performances because I see mistakes and I’m getting terrified by how many things I need to work on.
– Did you really find imperfections even in your ribbon routine for which you got the highest score of 30 points in Brno?
– I didn’t watch my performance from side but I tried to do my best (laughing). Most importantly, my coach was pleased.
– Olympic licenses in rhythmic gymnastics are not personalized. That’s why you keep saying that you are not selected yet for London. Do you really think that someone else can go there instead of you?
– Similar situation happened during the last Olympic cycle. I went to Beijingalthough another gymnast earned that license.
– Are you afraid that life will want you to pay back?
– No, I’m not afraid of anything. We mustn’t underestimate rivals and talk about something that hasn’t happened yet. Together with Dasha Kondakova, we earned the Olympics licenses for the country at the WCH in Montpellier; we are happy about it. But now we can just work and strive for going to London. It’s arrogant towards other gymnasts to say that I’m the one who definitely will compete at Olympics 2012. Every gymnast of our team desires to go there and works hard for it.
– Is the friendship between competing gymnasts possible?
– I think it may be unlikely for a very close soul to soul friendship. However, although my best friend Natalia Pichuzhkina (we started together in individual competitions) is competing in groups, we always support each other. And I know that all our “group”-girls are sincerely happy for me if I succeed; and they are upset if I fail.
– If you are offered to compete in group, would you accept it?
– I was offered the opportunity in 2007. But I said I didn’t want to. I like to compete as individual; I feel comfortable here, I can show what I can and what I learned. But it’s hard to work in group if we talk about “physical” and psychology. If you drop the apparatus and that’s all; you understand that you let down the whole team. It’s hard psychologically to get through it. The girls are under crazy pressure. You have to be a complete unit in group.
I don’t talk to impudent people.
– Are you recognized on the street?
– Sometimes. Recently, I was recognized in the express-train from Sheremetyevo.
– The Olympic Champion takes train from the airport?
– And why are you so surprised? I’m an usual person. I was told that it’s the fast way to get to the city center; that’s why I bought ticket and took the train.
– And what is the reaction of people when they recognize you?
– They just ask for autograph and that’s it. It’s interesting to meet somebody on a street, or recognize him. When I meet some famous people on a street I can discuss it with my friends later.
– Do you ask for autographs from other celebrities?
– No, I don’t. I used to take pictures with someone to remember. But it happened often that I didn’t have camera at those moments (laughing).
– Is it really possible to meet you in the metro (subway/underground train)?
– Why not? It depends on the situation. If there’s no traffic jam I usually take taxi. But it’s not a problem for me to go by metro.
– Don’t you drive?
– I don’t have driving license yet. I want to learn and pass all exams myself but I never have time. I believe that I’ll take care of it after next summer.
– Do men try to acquaint with you often? Are there impudent and brave men yet?
– I don’t relate to impudent men (laughing). Sometimes some men do try to acquaint with me. But I can’t say that it happens often.
– What should man do to get your attention?
– Something I don’t expect (smiling).
– Please, shatter a myth that gymnasts don’t eat at all.
– I eat 3 times a day although I should eat twice a day. Sometimes I hold myself and don’t eat after 6 p.m. in order to lose weight. But sometimes I can’t hold and it’s bad.
– I doubt that you eat sweets after 6 p.m.?
– It can happen. I’m a human being, am I not? (smiling)
– They say you liked chatting a lot when you were a kid.
– I loved it. Moreover I loved talking to everyone around even with people I didn’t know. But now I can’t just approach some person in metro and start a conversation. They would think I’m crazy (smiling).
The End of the World and Rio-2016.
– Do you visit any entertaining events in Moscow?
– Our group-girls gave me on my birthday a concert ticket of Enrique Iglesias; I went forth with pleasure. I can’t call myself his fan but actually I like his work. Mostly I go to the ballet.
– Not everybody understands ballet, neither the criteria of giving scores in rhythmic gymnastics…
– Each of our programs is like some kind of performance. Of course when gymnast drops apparatus or gets tangled in ribbon then everybody could see that she made a big mistake and she hardly could win. The rest is a matter of taste.
– Do you cry more often due to victories or failures?
– In life I cry mostly because of some tragedies, for example someone’s death. In sport I can start crying if I got hit during training. But I’m trying to hold myself.
– It appears that you are an emotional person.
– Yes. It can happen that emotions come out not only through tears but also through hysterical laughter. Moreover, it happens at the moment when I don’t expect it. On another hand I can’t say that I’m a hysterical woman crying with no reason.
– If there is a difficult life situation, who will be the first person you call?
– At first I would try to solve everything myself. I just don’t want my mom, brother or grandma to worry.
– If someone will bring you young and talented gymnast and ask you to help somehow, will you?
– Probably I’ll be able to give some advice but nothing more because I’m not a coach. I’m in training myself. We have Irina Viner who always willingly finds time to take a look at young gymnasts. Moreover, taking into account that the Ministry of Sport helps our sport a lot, there are many good coaches working across the country.
– You are studying to be a coach, right?
– Yes, already 3rd year at the Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education in St. Petersburg; gymnastics department. I don’t want to go to another field yet.
– What have gone deep into your soul during all these years of gymnastics?
– I saw how difficult it was for Alina Kabaeva and irina Tchachina when this disqualification story happened. But they behaved magnificently; they didn’t give in and then performed with dignity at the Olympics. Although it wasn’t easy at all.
– I always wondered: what doping-controllers are trying to find in your sport?
– I don’t understand it either; but they are looking for something. Probably, for some magic drink which will help gymnasts with coordination and improve their stretching (smiling). We don’t have doping. Prohibited things can get to the organism only by accident via medicine; that’s why we must be careful with it.
– 30-year old gymnast is something from fantastic sphere?
– In our sport if you miss 2-3 month then there is practically no chance getting back to the high level. Of course, there were exceptions. But it happens rarely. And when you are 30 you want to have family, children.
– In your opinion, will you understand yourself that it’s time to finish career or…
– Or I wait the moment when everyone will scream: “Zhenechka, leave!”? No, I don’t want it to happen this way. I will not suppress audience. If I feel I’m still growing I’ll continue performing. If not, then I’d rather leave than show the less-than-the -best part of me.
– At the moment of Olympic Games in Rio-de-Janeiro you will be just 26 years old…
Hold on, there is Olympic Games in London coming up. Moreover, the world is expected to end in 2012; God’s willing, let’s pass it first and then we’ll see (laughing).