Ekaterina Sokova, once a promising Russian junior and one of the candidates for Rio, retired from gymnastics at the end of 2015 when she was diagnosed with a serious hip injury that eventually required a hip replacement at the age of 16. After having a surgery, Sokova filmed a Youtube video where she told her story, accusing her coaches and the Russian artistic gymnastics federation of neglect. The video became an instant hit and by now it’s been watched by more than 900,000 people. It both helped Sokova to get some sort of closure and jumpstarted her career as a vlogger. In a recent interview with Gorod Kovrov (a local website in the town of Kovrov where Sokova lives), she talked about her life after the retirement from gymnastics.
Q: Was this video a result of your desire to express all your pain?
A: I wasn’t trying to ask for pity! I just wanted to explain. I was fed up with answering the same questions over and over in the private messages… It was the period where I had to lie on my stomach all day long so that I’d later be able to walk normally. Not only my leg hurt, I was bored! It was a bit because I didn’t have anything else to do. The full version is longer than an hour. Then, several hours of editing. And all this while lying on my stomach in the same position! At some point, I felt like I was edition someone else’s speech like I was looking at it from outside. When the video was ready, I not only felt better from telling [my story] but also proud of myself – I managed to fit all of it in a few minutes.
Q: And how’s school going?
A: What school? I graduated even before I was 17 years old. When I was on the national team, I was told to take all the exams early because I wouldn’t have time for studies later. So I did. Then, it turned out that I didn’t have to rush so much… But I’m a free person now. I’m thinking of applying to a distance program at a university next year.
Q: What university and why a distance program? You were saying that you have lots of time now.
A: I had lots of time in the hospital. Now I’m working as a receptionist in a beauty salon – that’s my mom’s business. I also work as a coach in a club where I used to train. And I see myself as a coach in the future, I plan to study physical education.
Q: And what about Youtube? Is it a hobby or…
A: It used to be a hobby at first. But I’m earning money from ads now. I can’t say it’s a lot but some months, it makes up 25% of my overall income.
Q: So, you have three jobs – a receptionist, a coach, and a vlogger. If all three of them gave you the same level of income, what would you choose?
A: Youtube! Just because it’s very interesting. And I’m talking to people.
Q: But talking to people online isn’t always a positive experience. Do you encounter haters?
A: Oh yes. I used to get really stressed because of them. But then I looked at the statistics – they made up no more than 5% of all the viewers. It’s just that they look at everything more closely than others in order to post a comment “it’s trash” or something like that. Or they write that they opened the link just to unsubscribe. But then they visit the page again. They’re just ridiculous. I’ve realized already that it’s pointless to react to them or to fight them. They just exist.
Sokova tells that during her gymnastics career, all of her friends were other gymnasts but now she’s not really in touch with them anymore – they just don’t have much in common.
A: I have only one friend left from the previous life. She’s still training. She lives near Moscow. We’re still in touch, meeting and talking online and on the phone. [The friend is, apparently, Seda Tutkhalian who posted this quote on her Instagram thanking Sokova for the mention].
Q: But you’re only 17! I’m sure you’ll have more real friends in the future.
A: I don’t really know. For now, my true friends are my little brother and older sister. And my mom. Regarding friends… I don’t know what to say about boys. I think that friendship between boys and girls is a myth. By the way, when looking at my channel stats, I was surprised to discover that 20% of my audience is male. That was unexpected. I was sure that my channel is for 14-year-old girls. I get lots of “romantic” offers, but I decline everything. I don’t have time. And also everyone asks me to go out at night. Guys, I don’t like nights! I’m super afraid of the dark, really. I’d sleep with the lights on but my mom says it’s too much electricity spending. So, I’m turning string lights on in my room and sleep. My mom turns it off in the morning.
Q: Ok, I see about the dating life. What about a girlfriend?
A: That’s what I’m dreaming of. My sister Nastia is away at college in Ivanovo, she’s only visiting on the weekends. And she’ll probably have a different, adult life soon… A girlfriend… Yes, I am dreaming of meeting someone like that, my peer. So that we could talk about anything. Not only about sports and internet, but about anything at all. So that we could call or even meet if it’s hard. So that we’d have fun together. I guess I want too much…
Photo: Gorod Kovrov
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