Igor Radivilov talked to Sport UA in November about Worlds, training, his daily life and his thoughts about men possibly doing floor to music.
Q: Were you upset that you lost the gold by only 0.001?
A: Was I upset? Maybe later. But when I saw that I’m in second and there was only one gymnast competing after that I knew that I’d have a medal. And the biggest joy was in that. Only later other athletes came up to me and said: “It’s wrong, you’re the World champion”. Of course, after that, you’re sitting and thinking: “Shit, only one thousandth… Second time I almost became a World champion!” It means that I have more work to do, that I didn’t do something right, didn’t land right, perhaps, I was too nervous. When there’s such a responsibility and you feel that the goal is really close, it’s hard to calm yourself down. But anyway, I’m 90% happy.
Q: The gymnasts in Montreal complained about lights being too bright in the arena. Did something bother you?
A: The lights were indeed very unpleasant. At every competition, there’s lighting from above, but here it was from the side. So, you’re hanging from the rings and the light beams into your eyes. I had to squint. It’s not normal. They make shows out of competitions. It’s like we come there to entertain people.
Q: And the entrance to the arena was almost like in boxing…
A: Yes, the entrance, too. You’re standing barefoot on the podium for like 15 minutes, getting cold… Then the fire and smoke are right in your face… We’re not singers or something. Yes, there was discomfort. But every country organizes competition in its own way. We’re only the participants, we can’t decide who will be shot with what kind of flame.
Q: You showed that you can compete with Shirai who won the vault this year on equal terms. What are you preparing for the next year in order to finally beat him?
A: I can’t say anything for now because I don’t spend much time on training vault right now. I’m competing every week, so I’m only maintaining my regular work. Frankly, after the Worlds, I have a very busy schedule. There will also be a World Cup – it’s important for the rating. So, for now, I don’t have either energy or time for recovery or any sort of development. I think it’ll happen after I rest: after New Year we’ll start thinking, we’ll look in what shape and state I’ll be in.
Q: Do you plan on submitting an application for the FIG allowing to perform the Radivilov vault again in the next Olympic quad? Do you think of submitting another named vault?
A: There are some options, but they’re tricky and risky in terms of injuries. After the experience I got when I performed my vault in Rio in 2016, I realize now: if you want something, you have to do it at 200%. And I don’t have anything 100% or 200% ready now. It’s not so easy. After all, everything that I’m performing now is hard already. And to add something new, lots of time is needed. Maybe, in 3-5 years there will be something new.
Q: But are you still experimenting?
A: Kind of, playing around, if I’m in the mood.
Q: You said that that was how the previous vault appeared…
A: Yeah-yeah. It was 50-50. We went for broke. It was a hustle anyway. We hoped to get lucky. But we didn’t. So, I’ll need to work at 200% so that I wouldn’t depend on luck and would be confident in my performance.
Q: You’ve been married for a year to your national team colleague, Angelina Kisla. How does it affect your athletic life?
A: Only positively. Including my career growth. She’s always supporting me a lot, helping me. Sometimes she can yell at me if I’m not in the mood, falling apart or something’s not working. Who’s responsible for waking me up for practices? I wake up first.
Q: How did you celebrate your anniversary?
A: We didn’t celebrate. I was at a competition somewhere. But we congratulated each other, of course.
Q: You recently got a foam pit installed in the training center. What’s the function of the pit and how did you train without it before?
A: It’s a big advantage that we now have it. We can try new elements, we’ll learn them faster. You can train more difficult vaults with it, develop high bar and rings as well. We didn’t have it before, we had wooden sides and needed to put mats between them. It’s safer with the pit. How does it look? They dug a pit, put mats onto the sides and foam cubes inside. And that’s it, now you can land even on your head, whatever you want.
Q: It was written that even the nutrition will be changed [at the training center].
A: Yes, the Sports minister, Igor Zhdanov, visited us. I personally complained about it because the nutrition does not match the training loads. We recently filled questionnaires about what we like and don’t like and what needs to be changed, added or removed.
Q: Ideally, should there be an individual diet for everyone?
A: Generally, yes. Some people need more meet, some – more cabbage, some – quark. We all eat at the same dining hall. But the nutrition has improved already, we started getting more food and more diverse.
Q: One of your fans joked on the internet that you probably don’t need an elevator in order to get to the second floor, you jump high enough. Do your gymnastics skills help you in daily life?
A: They really help with driving. You react faster than normal people. Other than that… Where can artistic gymnastics help? It’s not like I climb the stairs on my hands. It’s a very specific sport that can only be done in specially equipped places.
Q: Some gymnasts say that they’d like to try to compete on floor with music, like girls. What do you think about it?
A: What music? It’s ridiculous. Adult men [dancing] to music? It’s more for kids. I think this shouldn’t happen. They need to switch to another sport then or to dance.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I don’t have any spare time. We go to the movies with my wife, to cafes, when we have spare time. We like sushi. After Worlds we didn’t see each other for a month: either I was at competitions or she was at a camp. We have very little spare time. We finish the practice at 7pm and where could you go after that. Shower first, doing some stuff, eating – and it’s 9pm already and we need to rest. When on vacation, then maybe. But vacation… It’s just a name. I don’t really remember when was the last time I had it. Probably, when I was resting for a month after London. I’m used to it already. Vacation only happens on paper in our committee. Some rest, some work. In order to have results, you have to leave the rest for later: the time flies too fast.
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