Double Olympic champion Evgenia Kanaeva talks Olympics by UEG

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19 July 2016
In exactly one month, the Rhythmic Gymnastics competition will kick off at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Evgenia Kanaeva wrote history several times during her gymnastics career. She is the only rhythmic gymnast to win 2 Olympic golds, the first in 2008 which she then successfully defended in 2012. She was the first gymnast to sweep all gold medals at a Worlds. She accomplished this feat in 2009, only to repeat it in 2011. In 2009 she had a truly exceptional year: she swept the golds at the European and World Championships, the Universiade and the World Games! Kanaeva is also the only gymnast to receive a perfect score under the 30-points system. There is just one word to summarise all her achievements: wow! 

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

Known for her consistency, elegant routines and high level of technical difficulty, Kanaeva amassed 17 world and 13 European titles in her impressive career. After the London Olympics she decided the hang up her ribbon and became a coach and the Vice-President of the Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, alongside fellow Omsk native Irina Tchachina, the 2004 Olympics silver medalist.

Kanaeva recently coached apparatus technique to 24 young girls at the UEG training camp in Obertraun (AUT) and made some time to answer the following questions:

UEG: As a gymnast, what goes through your head when you walk into an Olympic Arena?Kanaeva: It was fulfilling a dream and I was very happy that my dream became true. I was a little excited, at my first Olympics. With the first apparatus, my heart was pumping!

UEG: Did you get nervous before a competition? If yes, how did you handle it?
Kanaeva: I was nervous because I want to develop my form permanently. It is absolutely important to know that the training was enough, then the nerves are not so big. I was thinking that my mother would love me in the same way, with or without mistake My coach supports me very strongly and gave me security.

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

UEG: Who do you think will be on the podium in the Rhythmic competition in Rio?Kanaeva: In Russia we say ‘Human thinking, God is doing’ ( Человек предполагает, Бог располагает.) – there are a lot of very good gymnasts like the girls from Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Korea etc. Nevertheless I hope that my Russian colleagues will be on the podium. The competition becomes bigger and bigger due the development of [rhythmic gymnastics on] the other continents.

UEG: Where will you watch the Games and who do you support?
Kanaeva: At home – and of course those gymnasts who I know personally I send SMS for good luck, and I cross my fingers for all gymnasts.

UEG: How is life in the Olympic Village?
Kanaeva: I stayed only one time in the Olympic Village. That was in Beijing 2008 because in London 2012 the village was too far from the Gym.
I enjoyed the stay in the village, due the collegiality of all athletes in the village. Everybody supports everybody. Because the Rhythmic competitions are every time at the end of the Games, therefore we recognised all the celebrations and positive and negative emotions, which never you have in the life before and after.

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics 2010, Bremen/Germany, 16.-18.4.2010, Bremen-Arena

UEG: How do you experience gymnastics now that you are not competing anymore? Was it difficult to adjust to being on the side-lines?
Kanaeva: I still love Gymnastics and I miss it immediately after my retirement. Now I work with young gymnasts and my intention is that they shall feel the same as I felt when I was active. The first two years after my retirement I always dreamed about my exercises and it was difficult to realise my life without gymnastics. Also there were a lot of very negative and sad situations in my private life immediately after my departure from competitive gymnastics. But, step by step, with my marriage and getting my son it becomes better and now, thanks to my family, I am now able to continue in my Sport as a coach.

UEG: What advice can you give to the competitors?
Kanaeva: Enjoy the Present, nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. If they want to have success, they have to work not only with the body – it is very important to work also with the head.

Thank you very much Evgenia!

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11 Responses to Double Olympic champion Evgenia Kanaeva talks Olympics by UEG

  1. arthur dent says:

    I have to say Harnasko is really impressive with clubs. Technique and artistry-wise. Nikolova seems alittle more restricted in her performances. Overall both are pretty impressive but I think Harnasko has more of that charm. A growth spurt will be the most difficult challenge for these girls though. Hope they age like Zhenya and not Alina.

    Thanks for the new pics of Zhenya. Loved the 2nd one where she just holds the kid’s hands and teach her. So much love and fun in that face. So different from Viner’s strict and hard rule. Makes me wonder if she could ever take Viner’s place. And Lobatch looks great for a 46y.o.

    Sorry I have to ask. Do you know why Zhenya doesn’t even perform galas since she retired? I would love to see her perform even once 😦

  2. ZKG-Zoe Wan says:

    @arthur dent, it’s not because of Zhenya’s low profile…just because she retired, and my passion for her reduce little by little day after day. sorry…this is me >”<

    Yes Zhenya's mom is a very good person! and no she doesn't run travel agency, now, I think.

    About my new favorites, Harnasko is very good in technique and Nikolova is very good in artistry. Harnasko was in junior group last year. She did very well this season, has defeated Russian juniors many times. but pity she didn't perform in her level in this EC. Nikolova is very good too, and very good in EC. 🙂

    Here's some Yoni's (Nikolova) gala you can see how good she is in artistry. there is a Bulgarian senior Boryana Kaleyn, she is a genius!
    Yoni Gala 2013 (music: sail by AWOLNATION)

    Yoni free hands in 2011

    Yoni Gala GP Moscow 2015

    Yoni's 4 routines all are very good.
    Yoni rope

    Yoni hoop Q EC (wrong music, but Yoni did very well!)

    Yoni hoop final EC (right music)

    Yoni ball

    Yoni clubs

    Harnasko has very good 4 routines too, but ball is her weakest, she always makes mistakes orz…
    Bucharest 2016 is the only competition she didn’t make mistake in ball this season I think

    Harnasko rope

    Harnasko clubs

    Harnasko hoop

  3. arthur dent says:

    Funny you mentioned Yagudin because he was a competitor in that game show along with other Russian sports stars. Yagudin used to be amazing in 2002. I like Arakawa as well. Medvedeva reminds me of Zhenya with her grace, innocence and technical superiority. Haha I like all these elegant sports.

    Well there isn’t really that much to keep up with Zhenya anyway. She is so private. I love all your descriptions of her mom. Sounds like a wonderful and kind woman even though i’ve never met her. Does she run some travel agency? If I ever get the chance to go to Russia…sigh

    I shall look out for your new faves. I did lose some interest in RG since Zhenya retired but more interested in it this year. I’m gonna root for Staniouta and Mamun in Rio. Somehow I’m finding it hard to like the new Russians, maybe because Zhenya and the 2 Dashas had great personalities esp on the podium.

  4. ZKG-Zoe Wan says:

    @arthur dent , well since the IOC has set the criteria, they can make the decision by themself. the Authorities of Olympics is IOC not the international federations.

    I am not a FS fan haha…just watched it in Olympics and not everytime. I like Shizuka Arakawa and Alexei Yagudin, because they went to Taiwan in 2011, and I watched their performance live. I love their performance very much!

    About Zhenya in the Russian game show “без страховки” I just watched few seconds…actually I am not following her information very often these years…but I still keep in touch with her mom.

    In the first half of this season I didn’t follow RG. now I am more interested in Belarusian and Bulgarian gymnasts. I fall in love with Alina Harnasko (BLR) and Yoana Nikolova (BUL) after EC Holon. both juniors, I can’t wait to see them in seniors next year. And I will support these two countries in Rio 2016. 🙂

  5. arthur dent says:

    Sorry I kinda assumed you still watched FS due to the Mao Asada post. I do agree that the federations may have different standards but the criteria set by IOC makes it evenly difficult for everyone. Anyway I just didn’t want the RG girls to be affected like Isinbaeva. FIG have so far been very supportive so that’s good. Rumours had it that Viner might become the new Russian sports minister if IOC had agreed to a blanket ban.

    Did you see Zhenya in that Russian game show “без страховки”? She looked so lovely. Sometimes I wish she less private like Alina Kabaeva but then I realize that is what makes Zhenya adorable. Sorry, it’s hard to find Zhenya fans to talk to nowadays. Keep up the good work on the blog and youtube. Really appreciate it.

  6. ZKG-Zoe Wan says:

    @arthur dent, the problem is the standard of each international federation is different. Anyway, I still think IOC should take the responsibility.

    And about Medvedeva, I rarely watch FS, so I don’t have opinion, sorry.

  7. arthur dent says:

    Hi Zoe, I have always enjoyed reading your blog and watching your videos of RG and figure skating on youtube. Your dedication to Zhenya is amazing. Was worried when you disappeared for a while. Hope all is well with you and thank you for this new and precious interview. My heart broke when i read that zhenya had some difficult years. The passing of her father must have been tough for her family. I’m glad to see her doing well now. Hopefully she will take over Irina Viner’s place in the near future.

    You are right. The gymnasts are not even in the “McLaren report” which in itself is just one man’s claims without much evidence or investigation. I think IOC made the fairest decision though. Afterall the federations will have all the doping records. It helps the clean Russians while telling WADA and everyone against Russia that collective punishment is not the way forward. In fact I like their new criteria for Russian athletes so much I wish they would use that for all countries in the future olympics.

    What do you think of the other “zhenya” in figure skating, Medvedeva?

    Once again, thanks.

  8. ZKG-Zoe Wan says:

    @Lulu, I don’t think RG is affected…no RUS gymnasts are tested doping recently. But I am a bit disappointed about IOC putting the responsibility to all international federations. Olympics is charged by IOC. Ban or not to ban they should make the decision by themself. They just don’t have the guts.

  9. Lulu says:

    Omg thanks for posting this Interview! But im deeply shocked about that doping scandal in the russian team. Do you think rhythmic gymnastics also are affected from it? sorry for my bad englisch

  10. ZKG-Zoe Wan says:

    ‘Human thinking, God is doing’ in Russian words = Человек предполагает, Бог располагает. And in Chinese means ‘謀事在人, 成事在天’ 🙂

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