Artur Dalaloyan talked to MK about his path to Euros, his difficult personality and whether he will ever reach the peak in gymnastics.
Below is the translation of the interview.
This is for my mom. I’m dedicating to her both my silver in all-around and gold on vault, – said Artur Dalaloyan several times during the European Championships.
A: How did I start in gymnastics? Very simple: I was an active kid, ran around, tumbled all over – my parents couldn’t not pay attention to it. What sport would look for these qualities? Gymnastics, of course, so they brought me to a gym. I started doing gymnastics when I was six, we were still living in Novosibirsk then. I trained there for a year, then we all moved to Moscow. I immediately went to train at my favorite place – Dynamo. I remember how two coaches met me, a young woman and a man, they looked at me and said: what a knockout, great potential. And they sent me to train with Aleksandr Kalinin. My first coach has always been with me – then and now. I’ve never asked him, but I think he was serious about me from the beginning, he liked me. So, that’s how we started training.
Q: People say you caused a lot of headaches to your coach and the national team administration, and even to yourself. How many times did you want to just slam the gym door and quit? It’s a rocky path to becoming a champion.
A: Yes, I cause a lot of headaches. I was just at that difficult age. Sometimes nothing was going right, there was some depression, I didn’t want to do anything – even not sometimes, but every day. But it’s all over, I found positive things in gymnastics, saw a possible future, realized I can’t live without gymnastics and I have to work hard.
Q: This sort of realization usually comes when you give up something or people take it from you.
A: Yes, I had a break of about a year in the training process. I got into the junior national team at 13, won gold and team silver at the junior European championships, and there were all sorts of things… And at 15-16 I lost this golden cage.
Q: To say bluntly, you were thrown off the team?
A: Yes, thrown off.
Q: And that happened, apparently, because you broke the rules?
A: Yes. These are the moments when you start to understand something. No, I first thought: ‘Whatever, I don’t need you! I can live without you and I can do whatever I want’. But that feeling didn’t last long, just a month or two, and then other thoughts came, I realized that I was wrong. Of course, there were talks with the administration, with the coach before that, but I didn’t care. I was overwhelmed with these teenage all-or-nothing feelings, you know, when you think the world revolves around you. But then I decided to come back like a full turn happened inside me. I wouldn’t say that there is one person that can be credited for my return to gymnastics. Life brought me back here.
Q: Are you still thinking the world revolves around you?
A: No, not at all, I think that I have a lot to do. Of course, I won’t be able to fulfill all of my dreams, but I can fulfill some, with time.
Q: Why not all? Why are you talking like an old man? You’re only 20 years old, am I right?
A: I think whatever you get it’s always not enough. Of course, it’s possible to get an Olympic medal in gymnastics…
Q: Or even two medals.
A: or even three medals. But it still won’t be enough. I decided that I just need to improve all the time.
Q: The media called you the discovery of the Euros. In your senior debut, you confidently competed twice in the all-around losing only to the famed Oleg Verniaiev, you got the gold on vault. Are you happy with your achievements or is it still not enough for you?
A: I’m happy that I now understand how to prepare for a competition, how to conduct and control myself. I saw where I need to upgrade specifically, even though I knew already before the Euros that I’ll need to upgrade on all apparatuses. And not just upgrade the difficulty, but also prepare myself better psychologically. So that I wouldn’t think that I lost gold because I fell from the pommel horse. In general, there are a lot of possible upgrades on all apparatuses.
Q: Do you think you’re close to the leaders on the world level now?
A: Yes, in all-around. I’m prepared. When I won in Kazan, I was immensely happy. Honestly. Especially, when I realized that I had the ability to do it before. The interesting thing is that nothing really changed in my routines. All the changes were in my head, in experience, in some calmness that I now have.
Q: Artur, you are probably thinking sometimes: what if I had this calmness before the Games and not just in the first year of the new cycle…
A: I also thought that I’d regret it. But I don’t know if it would be a good thing for me to do well a year ago. Maybe, this wouldn’t make me stronger? It’s just that right now I… Let’s not talk about it, ok? I can only tell that a year ago I had horrible communication with my coach, we couldn’t understand each other, I didn’t show him respect, everything was wrong, not as it’s supposed to be between a coach and a gymnast. I tried to be in charge. That’s my personality. And he tried to control me: you have to do this, live like that. There was a moment when we went our separate ways. But then I realized I need him the most.
Q: Since you came back to Kalinin, it means, that you now understand why you need him?
A: I, first and foremost, need his endless patience.
Q: So, you give reasons to slap you sometimes during the training?
A: You know, I’d slap myself sometimes if it would lead to any results. I can be very harsh sometimes. I know that something’s my fault, but I try to excuse myself and blame someone else and just can’t stop. I see that it hurts the coach. But I only apologize when I cool off and get back to normal. I’m so grateful that my coach knows when it’s better to say nothing. Lately, I’m also grateful for his positivity. But it’s all started when we patched things up.
Q: Everyone saw you gymnastics talents. Do you have any hidden talents?
A: I like to dance. You know, I’m good at everything I try. There are people who are meant to do just one thing. I, for example, always went to all sorts of academic competitions when I was at school, got prizes, was always in the center of attention.
Q: And how is it there, in the center of attention?
A: I’m confident now. Confident about myself, my place, my competitions. All this is connected.
Q: Why aren’t you in college? You don’t think you need it?
A: Because studies won’t lead me to anything right now. I’m a professional athlete, I’m always at training camps, I simply don’t have time. I don’t want to study coaching or physical education. I don’t need it. I want something more interesting in life. And right now I simply don’t have time to study something that would fit me.
Q: Do you often choose the roads less traveled?
A: That’s probably the thing I’m chasing all my life. I don’t want to be like everyone else. I hate taking the well-travelled path: do, say, be like everyone else and everything will be all right. I don’t subscribe to that, and that’s why, I guess, my path has been rocky, or, rather, things didn’t come together sooner. When people make me be like everyone else, I resist.
Q: So, you’re taking extra responsibility. You have to show your own style on the competition floor as well.
A: Yes, I know. Do you think I look there like everyone else?
Q: You have a quite aggressive and confident style. I wouldn’t confuse you with anyone else.
A: That’s what I want – for people not to compare me to others, but to pick me from the crowd.