“Ot dushi v dushu”, the Youtube channel that posted the weirdest interview with Oleg Verniaiev last week, promised to give us a sequel and boy, they did not disappoint. In the second part, Verniaiev talks about offers to represent other countries (he’s popular!), his salary, whether he has sponsors (spoiler: he doesn’t. I wonder if his interview style has anything to do with it) and his approach to dating and sex.
Q: Were you ever offered to change citizenship?
A: First, the Azerbaijan offered, still in London after the 2012 [Olympics]. Then the Russians started. They laid out all the details right away: 5 thousands bucks – the salary from the region [you represent], any university, an apartment for me right away, jobs for my parents and in addition the salary from the federation, all the stuff. The Germans offered. There the salary was around 3,5 thousand, “we can facilitate so that you’ll receive the German citizenship” and if you’re a world champion or a world medalist, they can meet you in the middle and do it faster, you won’t have to live there for 10 years. And I immediately started imagining it, thinking – well, it’s Germany, it’s so great here, so cool. But then I talked to my coach and he said: “wait a bit, let’s decide when you come back to Ukraine – if there won’t be any changes here, then [it’s time] to leave”.
Q: Do you watch cartoons?
A: Absolutely. I can go to a movie theater to watch a cartoon. I once went with a girl to see a cartoon, it was an interesting story. I say: “Let’s go to the movies”. Her: “Where?” I say: “To see a cartoon”. She says: “What, are you making fun of me?” I say: “What do you mean? It’s a cartoon, it’s cool!” We come to the movie theater and she’s all like: “maybe, we won’t go?” “What do you mean, we’re already here?”. And there was a guy in front of me, I say to him: “Listen, bro, how old are you?” He’s like “well, 23”. I say: “What movie are you going to watch?” “Cars, the cartoon”. I say [to her]: “here’s a cool guy, while you’re showing off”, say “you should watch cartoons!”.
Q: How did you meet your girlfriend?
A: We’ve been dating for three months, we met online, the usual. Either she said or I said “let’s meet”, and she’s like “let’s meet for tea”*. “Well, if you’re inviting, let’s go”. Her: “ok, let’s”. We’re meeting and I say to her: “Well, since you’ve invited me, you pay the bill. If I invited you, I’d pay, but since you’ve invited me, you pay”. Well, she paid, she gave me a stink eye. As you can see, it worked. She’s 18 already, that’s my thing, a strict criterion. Until I see the passport, I won’t even touch the person. There are all sorts of Shuryginas** now, so forget it.
Q: Do coaches prohibit a lot of things?
A: On our team, they don’t prohibit anything. Well, “not to drink, not to smoke” – yeah, if a coach sees someone smoking, that’s it, they’ll throw him out of the camp or off the team. Our sport requires coordination, if you get drunk and then come like that, you know, in the morning, you can lose yourself in the air and there can be such injuries that not only will end up badly but that can be career-ending. But after the competition, at the banquet, many are partying – it’s easier since we won’t be back home until the next day, then we’ll rest for a day, lie down, so everyone often drinks at the banquets. But before the competition, that’s an absolute no.
Q: How much do you earn in Ukraine?
A: Well, in Ukraine, if you take the maximum, it can add up to a thousand dollars, and that’s for an Olympic champion. That’s the top, there’s nothing higher. That’s the salary and the Olympic stipend which still has to be approved by the President. There was a situation that Igor and I were screwed for a year. So, it was like that – I became a World and a European champion, first a European champion. They submit the papers for the stipends at the end of the year and my stipend for the European gold is approved. And the stipend for the Worlds gold was supposed to kick in next year. And then the President’s decree comes out that all the last year’s submissions are annulled. So the fact that I became a World champion, that’s nothing now, that’s annulled. And we’re shocked, what happened, but they told in advance – you’ll be getting your stipend for the European gold.*** Yeah, there were misunderstandings like that.
He is then asked to make up a football team from Ukrainian Olympians and nominates a few Olympians including Igor Radivilov, but says that he wouldn’t want to play because his legs hurt too much for that and he only likes to watch football from the stands.
Q: Do you have a sponsorship contract?
A: Only with my parents (laughs). Otherwise… Well, I have a contract with the federation, with the ministry that I have to represent them. But otherwise, no contracts. There [abroad], let’s say, there’s a guy, a silver medalist from the London Olympics, he had a contract with a watch brand in Hong Kong, a contract with Porsche. Now his contract with Porsche ran out and he started a new one with Toyota, he has a contract with Reebok. Another dude has a contract with Mitsubishi, some other contract, a show, all that sorts of stuff, that’s how they survive there. But somehow it’s not relevant in Ukraine.
Q: Have you ever had sex with tall girls?
A: Well, there were taller girls, but I don’t think there were any taller than 1.75 m. Yeah, you have to climb there, make more efforts. That’s why I am looking for petite girls. I like to lay on my back and that’s it.
Q: What was the most expensive gift you gave to your girlfriend?
A: A trip to the Maldives. Well, I organized everything, asked for her passport information, told her that we’ll go abroad, she asked where. I said right away: I won’t tell you, you’ll learn when we’re at the airport. I kept the secret for long but she was all like “tell me” and I ended up telling her, practically two weeks before. She cried.
Q: Do you get tested for doping?
A: Practically at every competition. It happened that I started improving rapidly, there was a rise and they started checking-checking-checking every time. They inform you: you’ll be under our control for a year. And you can choose an hour from 6 am to 10 am, and they can come at that hour that you choose to the address that you submitted, and it’s been like that for me for three years.
Q: What do you think about the Russian Olympic ban?
A: Honestly, I’m against all these bans for Russia, it’s just politics at play. [In gymnastics] Americans are drinking all sorts of vitamins that it’s scary. Not hiding, they finish a practice, get a jar like that from their bag, take a pill, drink from the jar – it’s like, it’s all vitamins. Well, I think there might be something else, too. And in Russia it’s like “everyone is on doping”, I can’t even… Many asked me: how, why are you supporting them? Well, ok, today they don’t like the Russians, tomorrow they won’t like us and I’ll be banned, will you scream that I’m bad or good? To ban me, too, or what? 5-10 people took doping there, well, ok ban these people who were caught [with doping], why are you banning the whole team?
Q: Do you realize that after this interview you’ll get a lot of haters?
A: I already have plenty. My car gets scratched, hit. My old car was hit. I had Donetsk plates, they kicked a fender four times. Why? Because I didn’t sing the song “Putin lalala” on the street.****
*Russians and Ukrainians meet for tea, not for coffee. Although, coffee’s gaining popularity lately.
**Diana Shurygina is the famous Russian rape victim (the one that was shamed by Paseka) – one of the arguments by people who say that “she asked for it” is that she lied about her age and told the people at the party where she was raped that she was over 18.
***The stipend for European champions is lower than the one for World champions.
*** *This sophisticated song goes like this “Putin is a dickhead lalala” – it’s very popular in Ukraine.
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