Morinari Watanabe gave an interview to VTB Bank during the European Championships.
I assume the interview was taken in English, however, VTB only published it in Russian and I wasn’t able to find the English original, so here we are with sort of a back translation from Russian to English.
Watanabe thinks that more changes should be implemented in gymnastics making it more marketable and minimizing controversy in judging:
“Starting this year we’re going towards the new Olympic Games. There have been changes in the rules. Now we need to try them out to make sure we’re moving in the right direction. We need to land a foundation for the year 2021 and all the future seasons. Changes are important. Everything should evolve. If you stop, you’re extinct like a dinosaur. We need to create a market price for our events, to make it easier to organize and watch the competitions. The more sponsors there are, the more event can be held. We need to continue working on such a judging system in which the possibility of a wrong score would be minimized. No athlete should feel like their medal was stolen from them.”
Watanabe visited over 200 countries in the last 2 years trying to figure out the problems that gymnastics faces around the world. The interviewer asked him whether he thinks that gymnastics should be developed in poor countries in Africa and South America:
“My strategy is a search. Today we’re focused on developing gymnastics wherever the opportunity arises. No one is surprised that African countries play football. They have great potential. If we’ll continue to support African children, they’ll show good gymnastics in the future. The federation has to think about every gymnast, no matter whether they’re adults or kids, whether they’re well developed or only starting to learn gymnastics. We will write individual development programs for each continent.”
Watanabe insisted that for him gymnastics is a balance in which both difficulty and aesthetics are important. He praised Artur Dalaloyan for doing difficult vaults beautifully.
When asked about his visit to the Round Lake, Watanabe says:
“This is a good training base, but the most surprising thing is that everyone is like a family there and Andrey Rodionenko is their father. You won’t see it in most countries. That’s really great. I talked to Rodionenko at Euros and he told me that some of the current gymnasts have kids or expecting kids soon. Usually, many gymnasts retire at 22-23 years old. But your gymnasts are ready to return to competitions even after having kids. That’s unexpected and great! I support Andrey with this moms-gymnastics”.
Photo: Getty Images