You know you want some more of Khorkina’s craziness and today I’m granting your wish. I am currently doing an unofficial translation of Svetlana Khorkina’s first book “Flick Flacks in High Heels” and posting new chapters on Patreon. Here’s the translation of the first (introductory) chapter!
Gladiator fights in front of a Greek amphitheater
The world has fallen apart. I relaxed my fingers and, as if in a state of weightlessness, very slowly slid down. It seemed that everything around me disappeared, I lost track of time. There was no fighting spirit already, no ocean of emotions, just blurred faces of the spectators and ringing silence in my ears. I finished the routine and calmly left the podium. Without yelling, without tears, with the dignity of an Olympic champion. Passing through the line of surprised coaches, athletes, journalists, ignoring them and not answering their questions as if there was no one around me, I just caught a random bus and rode away. Everyone lost me.
I was already fed up with Sydney’s collisions. With all these behind-the-scenes games and undercurrents, political rudeness, setups and injustices, which were intensively fed to me in the past years. I was tired of being a gladiator who’s given more scary and insurmountable challenges with every time by the merciless Cesar.
In that moment on bars, I suddenly saw it with some sort of a second sight: another moment and something irreparable will happen. Thoughts were running in my head: I wasn’t given enough time in order to thoroughly prepare and “feel” the apparatus before competing; they turned on the green light that signals the start of the routine before they were supposed to. According to the rules, if you don’t approach the bars during the 30 seconds after the light, you get a zero. And I had to stop the preparations and rush to start the routine. But this apparatus doesn’t forgive hastiness: one imprecise movement and you’re crippled. Only my inner calm and habitual caution saved me. I did half of the routine totally focused.
I had already started my signature move when I suddenly felt that something’s wrong with the bars and I’m peeling off. Another moment and I’d fall, become disabled for life, needed by no one, forgotten by everyone, despite being internationally famous for a minute in the past. No, I couldn’t afford such “luxury” and the next moment I opened my fingers and slowly hopped down.
Who would have thought that this would be the conclusion of this battle of Athens. But I didn’t wail, didn’t have a fit, I simply turned that page over, realizing that by finishing today’s battle at the Olympics I had finished my athletic career. Coming back to the hotel, I created an evening of indulgence for myself: I drank a shot of cognac for the fact that everything’s behind me already and, thank God, I am alive and well. I washed off my make up, brushed my hair, went to a sauna, made a fragrant bath, lit some candles, turned on the music and plunged into nirvana. Overall, it wasn’t so bad – I won a silver in the all-around and a bronze in the team competition, I already had silver and gold medals from other Olympics – not many could dream of such success.
Then the girls came back after the competition as well. They ran to my room panicked: “Sveta, what happened? Your parents have been calling us…” Unfortunately, my phone ran out of minutes and that’s why they couldn’t reach me. The whole competition was televised and my parents saw this nightmare, saw how I left the arena and were left guessing: where did I disappear? Of course, I was hurt and offended, but I braced myself, not willing to show anyone how hard it was for me. So, in order to calm my mom down, I said to her: “Don’t you panic, everything’s fine, I’m relaxing, I went to a sauna. Someone will come to take me from here soon and everything will be ok”. Mom told me that Yulya* was already on her way to pick me up.
Soon my family and friends came, the ones who were cheering for me in the arena – they had already gone through fainting and heart attacks, but seeing that I’m alive and well, they calmed down. We got into the cars and rushed to the garden of Eden. That’s exactly how I was described the secluded villa where I was hidden from too curious eyes of the strangers. It was fantastically beautiful: the villa stood directly on the beach, the smooth surface of the Aegean sea shined in the sunset in front of the huge windows; the tables bustled with my favorite Mediterranean dishes, the wine flickered like rubies in crystal carafes. We sat down at the table, ate the tasty food, toasted to my successes and to my resilience. And only there, surrounded by the people closest to me, I couldn’t hold it anymore and released my feelings. Only God knows from where so many tears came! I was wailing till the morning and cried all my pain out, all the stresses and emotions of the past years. No one tried to calm me down, everyone understood that I needed this. The next day, of course, I woke up with puffy eyes and looked like a girl from the Chinese delegation. But my heart felt so incredibly light as if I was a kid again, cheerful and excited and was jumping up and down all day long on a trampoline.
And there, at this romantic villa, in the arms of my beloved, I realized that the most important and interesting period in my life is only starting.