A: The post-Olympic years are always hard but we finished this year very decently. Oleg won the World Cup in the overall placements, we had two gold and two bronze medals at Euros and two silver medals at Worlds. It’s a very respectable result. I’m not even counting apparatus World Cups and other competitions. We have two gymnasts who always shoe results and we always expect good results from them. They show consistent results on the international level so we expect medals from them at every competition.
Q: Other gymnasts besides Verniaiev and Radivilov showed good results at apparatus World Cups, for example, Petro Pahniuk. Why couldn’t they show good results at Worlds?
A: Apparatus World Cups are competitions of a different level. Sometimes, not all the strongest gymnasts are present. Sometimes, it happens that the strongest gymnasts on one apparatus come but midlevel gymnasts compete on the rest of the apparatuses. World Championships are a competition of completely different level. There’s more responsibility there, it’s more serious and it’s much harder to win a medal there. That’s why we think that a silver medal at Worlds is a very respectable result.
Q: Oleg Verniaiev admitted that these were the most difficult Worlds for him. What exactly was so difficult?
A: The way this season went for him – he had to fight injuries and illnesses. We were kind of chasing the competitions, there wasn’t any serious preparation. We were out of time for many reasons. But he managed to deal with it and won a silver on parallel bars, which is also a very respectable result.
Q: Igor Radivilov won a silver as well and he was behind the gold medalist only by 0.001 of a point. Have you seen other instances like that in your coaching career that the fate of a gold medal was decided by hundreds of a point?
A: We had similar cases on our team, for instance, when Nikolai Kuksenkov lost by 0,014 in the all around. It’s just that we have the judges that are able to calculate everything to a thousandth of a point. (smiles)
Q: Do we have any reserves? Young gymnasts, who will be able to replace the leaders?
A: Yes, but they’re still very young. We don’t have anyone to replace Verniaiev or Radivilov in the near future. To help the team – yes, but we don’t have anyone who’d be able to compete for an individual medal at Worlds.
Q: The next competition in the calendar is a World Cup in Germany. Which Ukrainians will go there?
A: We’re bringing 4 athletes – Verniaiev, Radivilov, Senechkin, and Pahniuk. Igor Radivilov will do his two vaults. We’re scratching Verniaiev from four apparatuses, he will only compete on two. He’s injured and will have a surgery. Senechkin will compete on pommel horse and Pahniuk is supposed to do parallel bars and floor. We’ll see how they do there.
Q: What exactly is bothering Oleg Verniaiev?
A: Oleg will likely have surgeries on his leg and shoulder in January. He’ll probably miss the whole next season. He definitely won’t be able to train for half a year and then we’ll see how he’s getting back in shape. He tore a ligament in his leg, this had bothered Oleg even before Rio, but it was tolerable. He’s torn his shoulder already this season and it needs to be repaired. We’ve just done an MRI and realized that a surgery is inevitable. That’s the kind of sport we’re doing – you’re staying afloat all the time, but then you’ll need a time-out.
Q: We just learned that there’s now a foam pit in the training center for which you’ve been asking for a long time. What else do you need to proper training?
A: We don’t have enough apparatuses. At Koncha-Zaspa a lot of people have to work on very few apparatuses. And new equipment is needed in the regions because they either don’t have anything or have apparatuses from the 60s. There’s a need for investments, then kids will go into gymnastics and there will be fewer injuries.