Radivilov: If I were American I would’ve gotten a medal in Rio

Igor Radivilov gave an interview to Sportarena.

Below is the translation from Russian.

Q: Igor, for how many years have you been a professional athlete?

A: I’m doing sports since I’ve been 5 years old but I started doing it professionally at about age 17. So, it’s been 8 years of my career at big competition venues.

Q: Why this specific sport, who pushed you to do gymnastics? Your first coach Vyacheslav Kiselyov predicted big success for you in football.

A: It happened that my mom and her friend took me to a gym because her [mom’s friend’s] son went there. I don’t know what’s happening with this guy right now, where is he, what’s he’s doing. Then, the things started looking up for me [in the gym] so no one wanted to pull me out of there. So that’s how I am still doing the thing I love.

Q: Who do you think is your main competitor in the sport?

A: Contemporary gymnastics is very serious and difficult, so there are many competitors. Every country has one or two of them, there’s always someone. For example, there’s huge competition at the Euros and Worlds now. I can’t name a specific person right now. For me, everyone’s my competition, all are very strong.

Q: This August, it’ll be a year since the Rio Olympics. What is your goal for the future? Do you consider going to Tokyo?

A: It will all depend on my health. Of course, I’m not going to retire, no way. I want to win and the main goal for these four years, I’d say, to prepare really well and stay strong till Tokyo.

Q: What do you consider to be your strength, which apparatus?

A: In the recent years I compete and win medals only on rings and vault. I’m mainly working on these two apparatuses. So we’re placing our best bets on them during this quad.

Q: Which element is the hard for you right now?

A: I don’t know. Honestly, I’m preparing new routines right now, because after the last quad the rules have changed. New elements, new routines, we’re looking for something. I guess we’re looking for something more comfortable and a good fit for me so that I’d be able to compete at a high level. We’re raising the difficulty and changing everything completely. The coaches and I are working on everything and we have some things in store for the future, for the next half a year, a year forward, that’s it. I don’t know yet what I will compete at the Worlds, this is the time between seasons, that’s why. We’re looking at different options, trying new things.

Q: Tell us which competition was the most memorable in your career?

A: Of course, the London Olympic Games in 2012 and the Worlds in China. Before that, it never worked for me at the Worlds, I couldn’t win a medal. I won silver in 2014 and, maybe, this medal was one of the happiest moments for me because I was working towards it for such a long time.

Q: What were your feelings when you learned that the “Radivilov” element named for you was included in the code of points?

A: I didn’t really have any special feelings because my main goal and task in Brazil was to win a medal. Somewhere deep inside I knew that it’s a big and serious element and that the FIG has lots of opportunities to ban it, which they did at the end. They removed my vault. It’s not quite simple. You know, if I were American and not Ukrainian, I think that they would leave it and I would medal with this vault. There were issues with the difficulty value of this vault. Basically, by all calculations, the d-value was too low (7.0 points). Because, well, how can a person win Olympics with a fall [they thought], so they decided it’ll be how it’ll be. They calculated everything, accounted for all the vault values. For example, there are two vaults with 4.0 values*, but if we’re taking my 7.0 vault and another 6.0 vault… all in all, the recalculations and comparisons weren’t in my favor. I’m preparing for a new season right now.

*[note from the translator: I am not sure what exactly he’s talking about here with these 4 points vaults, it wasn’t clear in Russian either]

Q: You’re colleagues with Oleg Verniaiev. Do you compete with each other in the gym during training?

A: Outside the gym, we’re great friends, of course, but in the gym, it can become interesting when we’re vaulting or something else. It’s always interesting to compete with him, there’s some sort of intrigue, it’s better when there’s two of use than to train alone. There’s competition, for sure.

Q: Is gymnastics an expensive sport? Do you spend a lot on uniform or tape?

A: The main issue is that there aren’t proper medications. And even if there are, the ones that I need, we don’t get enough of them. This issue is improving right now. Specifically, we’re getting big quantities of medications, vitamins, sports drinks. Surprisingly, we’re not experiencing any problems with that for now. But, generally, when the off-season competitions start I have to buy my own tape, that’s about 3000 grivnas. I’m also buying some vitamins for myself because I can’t go far just with vitamin C, you understand. Then, the nutrition. For instance, I buy meat, prepare it, because at the competitions the nutrition isn’t always what’s needed for the kind of the training load I have. So, it’s a bit of money here and there and bam – half of my salary goes way, or even more sometimes.

Q: Since you and your wife are both gymnasts, do you often argue about performing certain elements?

A: Generally, no. She’s often helping me and can see something better because it can be hard to understand where you’re doing something wrong. Angelina is always supporting me, helping me. We never really have serious arguments.

Q: Would you sign your future kids up for gymnastics?

A: Yes, I think, I sure would. They won’t have much choice.

Q: If something goes wrong or you’re unhappy with your performance at a competition, what motivates you to go out and compete again and again?

A: Firs of all, when I see that just needed a score a tiny bit higher when I didn’t do something well enough. When you see someone a step above you, then you realize, of course, that your dream is to stand there instead of this athlete. That’s my motivation. But, I’ll tell you, any medal in this sport is important to me, even a bronze. I had this crisis in 2015 when I just couldn’t win anything. I don’t really know why, honestly. The judging wasn’t favorable for me. There were some really unpleasant moments, I can’t really say what happened. But in this new season, everything looks better for me, more interesting. I’m happy with the bronze medal at Euros [on rings], among other things. Yes, not everything went smoothly, I didn’t manage to do well on vault, but it happens. I still think that something has changed.

Q: Would you want to become a coach?

A: I haven’t thought about this. But, in the future, maybe. For now, though, I’m only thinking about my own career as an athlete. I can’t say what I will do afterward.

Q: What is Ukraining gymnastics missing? What is needed to develop the sport in Ukraine?

A: The main problem is the training comditions. Besides the Olympic training center, there are simply no gyms in Ukraine. There’s nothing to train difficult elements, no foam pits, despite the fact that we’ve been talking about this forever – no one wants to do anything. They say it’s too expensive or something else. We have a new generation of gymnasts growing up, for example, the junior team is also training with us at the center. That is, there are enough people. The problem is that there aren’t any gyms.

Q: How do you recover after injuries, after higher training load, before competitions? Can you give any advice to the beginning gymnasts?

A: There are always big setbacks after high training loads. So, it’s better to train in moderation. This is my advice both for beginners and for professionals.

Q: What other sports do you like besides gymnastics, who do you cheer for?

A: I watch boxing on tv when I have time. Our Ukraininan boxers, Lomachenko, Usik, Berinchik. I’ve known all these guys for years. They show good results and I really like watching them. I watch the foreign football, too. It doesn’t compare to our football, of course. Nothing else besides that.


Photo: Getty Images

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