Sergei Eltcov made the Worlds team for the first time this year. His only previous major international competition was Euros in 2014. He competed on pommel horse and parallel bars in Montreal but not very successfully and ended up not making any finals. Eltcov gave an interview to R-Sport trying to analyze his performance.
Q: Sergei, it was your first World Championships. What were your thoughts and feelings coming to Montreal? What goals did you set for yourself – I’m sure that the national team coaches weren’t telling the truth when they said there weren’t any specific goals for you.
A: I had goals set for myself, I can’t say that I didn’t. Analyzing my performance, I can say that I competed at my first Worlds quite well.
Q: Were you really nervous?
A: Of course! I was very nervous, this was my debut at such level and I’ve never seen all these champions in real life before. Those who are becoming my main competitors.
Q: But I think that the guys from the team were helping you, right? And you’ve been on the national team for a long time now.
A: Of course, all the guys were helping me and telling what to do.
Q: Tell me frankly, what were you afraid of the most?
A: I was afraid to be out of my element, not to get a feel for this atmosphere that was completely new to me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to deal with the pressure of the huge arena with lots of spectators, everyone screaming and shrieking. It was very unusual for me, I’ve never felt this kind of pressure before.
Q: But you managed to deal with it, right?
A: Yes, I did. It turned out to be simpler [than I expected].
Q: If we dig deeper, your only major international competition has been Euros three years ago. How hard was it to switch from the national tournaments and local level of competition to the international?
A: It wasn’t easy for me. As I said, I’ve only seen the international leaders on tv before that. I was anxious, I’ll be honest. I was preparing, striving for the best.
Q: Who impressed you the most in Montreal?
A: The Chinese gymnasts are very strong, I liked the British gymnasts, Max Whitlock, for example. The Dutch were very good.
Q: The London Olympic champion, Epke Zonderland, was temporarily out of competition, but in Canada, in qualification, he became the best on high bar again. Is this the level you’re striving for?
A: If I competed on high bar, I’d make the event final, too, my level isn’t lower [than his].
Q: Not lower than Zonderland’s?
A: Generally, yeah. Not lower.
Q: Your main apparatuses are pommel horse and parallel bars. If we start with the pommel horse routine, what didn’t go right? The 67th place is definitely not your maximum, did you analyze [what happened]?
A: Yes, I’ve thought what happened. I couldn’t handle the nervousness. I started so well, didn’t even expect it. Frankly, I thought it would be worse, but everything went well, the guys cheered on me, but at the end, I lost control a bit and made a serious mistake.
Q: Did you think before the last element that you’d finished everything already? And then such confidence played a cruel joke on you.
A: Yes, there was such a thought. In my mind, I had finished the routine before it actually happened.
Q: Yuri Titov said in his interview that you can achive the highest results on pommel horse and noticed your great style of work. This Worlds can be called “passing”, but what are your goals for the future?
A: I have quite specific goals. Regarding the pommel horse, I need to upgrade my difficulty.
Q: What’s your current difficulty? 6.3?
A: Yes, it’s 6.3 now and I need to upgrade it at least till 6.6 and then to do it over and over. Here are my goals: to make the team for every Euros and Worlds and to go to the Olympics Games in Tokyo in 2020. Frankly, the World Championships in Montreal, its athmosphere and emotions, made me very excited and so I want to continue competing at this level while showing good results.
Q: You took the first place on parallel bars at the Russian Cup surpassing all your teammates. What’s the reason for being only the 15th in Worlds qualification?
A: You know, I made a mistake that cost me 0.5. I hit my leg which ruined my chances of making the final. Generally, I wasn’t nervous and I did everything else decently and quite well.
Q: Are you thinking about doing all-around?
A: No, I’m going to stay an event specialist. Especially since I also compete on high bar and have a high difficulty on it as well, and I continue upgrading and cleaning my routine up. It’s one of the best in Russia.
Q: Who would you call your idols? Who were you looking up to in your career?
A: Alexei Nemov, Kohei Uchimura, Zonderland. There’s always more to strive for.