With Verniaiev taking a break, Igor Radivilov is now the leader of the Ukrainian MAG team and he’s been giving lots of interviews recently. World of Sports filmed an interview with him in December and they also got to talk with Vaycheslav Lavruhin, Igor’s coach.
First of all, neither Radivilov, nor his coach (nor the journalists, it seems) can give up on the fact that the Radivilov’s vault has been banned and take it as an attack on the gymnast, the whole Ukrainian gymnastics and probably even the whole country (how very Khorkina of them).
Despite the fact that Radivilov admits that his vault wasn’t really ready, he and his coach don’t seem to think that it’s dangerous or that the FIG was right in their decision to give it a low start value to discourage people from doing it.
According to Radivilov, his coach originally encouraged him to try the vault and he agreed because at the time he was going through a medal draught:
“The coach stirred me to it, it was sort of an experiment, I was just in the mood to do it. I just tried it. Well, then he stirred me [to compete it] because it was such a time, I guess, it was a difficult time in my career, I couldn’t do anything.”
His coach believes that the vault should’ve been given a higher start value:
“They didn’t judge this vault as they were supposed to, they were just afraid. Because he would’ve won the Olympics if they gave it the start value it was supposed to get. So, he was the real medal contender who scared them. The start value of this vault should have been 8.4 because of the arithmetic progression. One salto has a certain value, two saltos – more, and when you add the third salto, you’re supposed to get 8.4. But they gave it 7.0 value. Now, in order to bring the vault back, it has to get its proper start value. They can’t do it again because that would be it, he’d become an undisputed champion, the rest [of the gymnasts] would have nothing to do after this”.
Radivilov said that after Rio and the vault mishap he was very depressed but he finally got over it:
“The biggest problem after Rio that I couldn’t let it all go, I was dreaming about it, I was walking and thinking, working in the gym and thinking, it was hard to live. It was killing me, depressing me, I guess. But now – whatever, let it stay there, let its champions stay there.”
Radivilov isn’t a huge fan of social events (or of turning competitions into shows, as we now know):
“I used to like playing snooker often, but now it’s completely abandoned, I don’t even remember when was the last time I played it. Basically, I spend my spare time with my wife. I like the distraction of movies and she likes it too. In the summer, we go for walks, of course, in the city, or some parks, maybe. We don’t like very crowded places because there’s tension, there’s someone not looking at you right, someone pushing you, I don’t like it.”
While he used to do floor in the past, his plan is to focus on just vault and rings now:
“Both of my hands were injured, there was a long recovery, I couldn’t just stay in handstands for long, couldn’t vault, I just couldn’t put weight on my hands. And I also had a physical predisposition for rings and vault, I did it and it worked out well. There was progress, I got stronger, I started to win some medals on these apparatuses and so, of course, I am focusing on them. What’s the point of doing floor if there are like 50 people there now vying for the medals and all of them are at about the same level? Who needs you to be the 51st one there?”
Radivilov’s coach talked about how it was hard for him to reign the gymnast in and how Angelina has been a positive influence in Radivilov’s life. Radivilov admitted that he prefers to have more of a peer relationship with his coach and that he doesn’t respond well to orders:
“I’m such a person that it’s better not to order me “do it this way” because I’m going to not do anything just to spite that person.”
Radivilov also talked about the offers he’s been getting from other countries to switch citizenship. The most insistent was Azerbaijan, who, it seems, tried to get practically the whole 2012 Ukrainian team (Verniaiev also had an offer, in addition to Stepko and Pahniuk who actually moved there). But the offer did not seem that attractive to Radivilov and now, after hearing about life in Azerbaijan, he’s glad he made the right call:
“The offer from Azerbaijan was good in terms of money, but no more than that. It wasn’t interesting. No one needs you there, in the country where no one loves you or waits for you. The slave force. To be some sort of a slave there is not for me. Because the guys that were there, they ran away. The things they tell, thank God, I dodged this bullet. So, I don’t regret anything, I’m happy with everything.”
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