Monday, September 26, 2016

Chuso's daily routine

Oksana Chusovitina was interviewed about the daily routine of an Olympian by a local news portal.

The interview is in Russian, so here's the translation/summary.
She wakes up at 9:00, because she really doesn't like waking up early.
Right after waking up she makes strong black coffee and drinks it with a piece of chocolate. She then showers, watches tv and packs for the gym. Then she goes off to the gym. She trains from 11:00 to 14:00 daily.
At 14:30 she has lunch at one of the local cafes, she likes Uzbek dishes or sometimes she goes to coffee shops to get another coffee and a croissant. She likes coffee a lot. After lunch she either meets her son or her friends (if son's still at school), goes for a walk, shopping or to the movies.
She goes to bed at 22:30-23:00 but can't fall asleep right away, so she watches tv for a bit.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Verniaev's interview

Oleg Verniaev gave a long interview to portal.
I'm going to summarize the main points (because I'm too lazy to translate the whole thing:))

He first talks about his experience competing in Bundesliga (a German club competition). He likes it because they have an unusual competition format and because the competitions always bring a huge crowd of fans. He was also amazed by the huge competition crowds in Italy and in Dallas during the American cup.
Even though he refused to give interviews to Russian media during Rio, he has many Russian fans and is friends with the gymnasts. He's also friends with Stepko and Pahniuk who now represent Azerbaijan, and they help him as they can (having better financial support) - for example, they bought some medication for him.
He got offers to compete for other countries, but he only wants to compete for Ukraine, despite all the issues with equipment and support. It's his country and he's very patriotic. He hopes to make gymnastics huge and popular in Ukraine. He hopes that one day Ukraine will be able to retain its athletes, because they wouldn't leave the country if not for the money problems. He wants to represent Ukraine in Tokyo and, maybe, even after Tokyo.
He's sad that Ukraine doesn't host big gymnastics competitions and the national championships are set in the gyms without bleachers/seating areas, so fans can't even attend these competitions. Basically, there's only one set of equipment in Koncha-Zaspa (national team training center) and this equipment gets taken to competitions and gets damaged during assembling and transportation which shortens its life. He describes how after one competition the parallel bars were returned broken and they didn't have a spare set, so they couldn't train bars. They haven't yet got the equipment from Rio that was bought for their gym, because the delivery and customs take months, so he doesn't know when will they get new equipment.
He hopes that Uchimura will continue competing all-around, because he likes competing with him.
His coach is a very important person in his life. Even though he's been doing gymnastics for a very long time now and knows so much, he wouldn't be able to compete without his coach.
Oleg's asked again about the team final in Rio where one of their gymnasts didn't compete and they didn't put anyone instead this person. As he said before, the Ukrainian team simply wasn't prepared to this type of situation and couldn't adjust quickly, because they don't speak English well and weren't aware of the proper procedure. They had no idea that they could make a replacement this close to the start of the competition (they learned that the gymnast won't compete only 15 minutes before the start).
One of his dreams is to visit Florida, he's never been there.
Attention to Belgian fans - in December he's performing at a gymnastics gala in Belgium (he doesn't give more details, unfortunately). He really likes gala shows - he performed in Brussels and in Mexico in the past.
He's asked whether he speaks English and answers that he speaks and understands, but not fluently, so he refuses to give interviews in English, because he's afraid to sound ridiculous and wants to speak in the language he's fluent in.
When he retires, he hopes he's famous enough in Ukraine to be able to help the gymnastics movement develop and, maybe, even open his own gym.
He's quite frustrated by having to apply for visas all the time (Ukrainians need visas for Schengen countries, USA, UK etc. and the process of getting them is complicated and costly), so he hopes that the rumors about Ukrainians able to travel in EU visa-free will become true soon.
He doesn't yet know how his programs will change in 2017 with the new code. He refers to his talk with Leyva in which Leyva reportedly said he's going to retire now, because his high bar routine wouldn't work in the new code and changing it completely would be too hard.
Oleg hopes to get gold at Worlds and Olympics and medal anywhere he can,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

More on WADA hack

So, Russian media and fans continue their outrage over Simone's ADHD and her use of methylphenidate (active component in Ritalin). It's not pretty. Clearly, the fact the in Russia stimulants are class I drugs alongside with heroine and cocaine affects the perception of people. The call Simone a drug addict, they call for her being stripped of all medals, that if she's so sick she shouldn't be allowed to compete etc. This makes me really sad, because such a public discourse will make it much harder for people with ADHD  in Russia to get diagnosed and get proper help.
Nabieva expressed her opinion on Vkontakte (Russian social media), reposting the news and saying "Shocking! Give me amphetamines and I'll go to the Olympic games". Here's the screenshot of her post.

A news program "60 minutes" invited Maria Paseka to talk about Simone.

This is going to be pretty disgusting, so prepare.
Here's a summary of some moments from this program (a lot of it was concerned with technical aspects of the hack and whether it's possible to prove that Russian government was involved).

The hosts called Simone "a sick gymnast" and said that narcotics are the secret behind her success. They implied that Paseka was robbed by Simone in the vault final, because Simone would have been disqualified.
Paseka said that she was surprised how calm Simone was in Rio and that now she knows it was because of doping.
Lidia Ivanova was also invited. She said she's happy that this hack happened, because finally people talk about the fact that all American athletes use doping. She then goes on complimenting Masha's looks and saying that Simone's her complete opposite (as in "ugly") with a body not suitable for gymnastics. She continued to insult Simone's looks for a while. She said that if Simone really had ADHD shoe wouldn't be able to compete on such a high level. She also implied that Biles takes more than just methyphenidate.
Then Nikolai Durmanov, former head of RUSADA, said that the medications that Simone and Williams sisters took are heavy narcotics worse than heroin that lead to addiction and death.
All of the hosts and guests went on to have a racially charged discussion how the prominent physique of Williams sisters and Simone cannot be a natural outcome and isn't normal, because women can't have that much muscle mass. They compare how Sharapova looks (pretty) and Serena (ugly) and ask: how can it be that Sharapova is disqualified for doping and Serena isn't? All the while they show a photo of Williams sisters in which they look hot and fierce as hell, but, apparently, according to Russian beauty standards it's manly and hideous.
Than a synchro swimmer Aleksandra Paskevich offers her opinion that taking Ritalin in artistic gymnastics would be the same as taking a drug that allows to breath underwater in swimming, it's that potent and performance enhancing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WADA hack

Ok, it's going to be a long rant today. The whole scandal about the hack into WADA system hit close to me, because I have a number of chronic conditions that require medication. One of these conditions is ADHD.
First, I want to give some background on ADHD and specifically on ADHD in Russia, so you would better understand the outrage of Russian regarding Simone. ADHD is an official diagnosis in Russia, however, many people don't believe it exists. It is very under-diagnosed, especially in girls and women. In addition, stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are class I narcotics in Russia and are completely prohibited. Even for therapeutic use. That's right, people with ADHD in Russia do not have access to medication. If you're traveling in Russia, you can't bring your Ritalin with you, because that would be a criminal offence. That's one of the reasons I don't want to go back to Russia even for a visit.
Those who do believe in ADHD often think that it's only an issue of focusing attention and bouncing off the walls. Well, the name of the condition is pretty misleading. In reality, ADHD causes a chemical imbalance in the brain which leads to impaired executive functioning. There's a whole cluster of symptoms, among them impaired working memory, inability to feel time (like not knowing how much time has passed and being late everywhere), trouble controlling energy (you bounce off the walls for an hour then you crash exhausted for the rest of the day), impulsivity (including anger issues), trouble recognizing facial expressions, sensory processing issues (like I have trouble understanding speech, for example) etc. Of course, in individuals symptoms may vary and some are more affected than others, but, in general, it's a very serious condition that affects many aspects of daily life and makes life pretty hard. Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD leads to development of other conditions, like depression, anxiety, addiction etc. I have anxiety disorder, for example. Medication does not cure ADHD, but it helps with some aspects (like time management, memory, controlling impulses), so it's needed in daily life, not just for studies. For example, without medication I forget appointments and lose things, so I really need it for travel to be able to get to airport on time and without leaving my passport at home. But people in Russia, including doctors, often have no idea about all this stuff. I personally went to doctors there multiple times, complaining about specific ADHD symptoms (back then I didn't know I had ADHD, but I knew something's wrong with me) and was never diagnosed until I moved to Israel. People in Russia often believe that stimulants are heavy drugs on the same scale as heroine. So, I'm not surprised many now believe that Simone took doping and that her diagnosis is a sham.
Of course, in people with ADHD stimulants do not offer any performance enhancing benefits. I remember the first time I took Ritalin. I normally stumble a lot and bump into things when I walk. If I want to prevent it, I have to concentrate really hard on my surrounding and where my body is at all times. It's exhausting and I can only do it for like 10 minutes in a row. The first time I took Ritalin I was, for the first time in my life, able to walk around and not bump into things, because I suddenly was aware of where my body is and what surrounds it, without making special effort. I remember thinking: wow, is that how normal people feel all the time? For us, many simple things that other people take for granted are extremely difficult. Medication doesn't make it all go away, but it makes life a tiny bit easier, and for that I am immensely grateful to science.
I am in awe of Simone for being able to achieve what she did while having ADHD and I think she's a great example for girls and women everywhere.
Russian media, of course, are having a field day with titles like "Simone Biles is using doping!" and I'm sure we'll have comments from Valentina about it soon enough. And I'm sad for Russians with ADHD who are under-diagnosed, stigmatized, afraid to come out as having this condition and do not have the necessarily resources to be treated properly.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Khorkina being very Khorkina

So, after trashing Simone for being the second person winning three AA worlds and not the first one (because it was Khorkina herself, the greatest of all), Svetlana went after Mustafina.
When asked whether Mustafina is the new bars queen, Khorkina said that there can't be two queens, and she considers herself to be the only queen. According to her, Mustafina can only maybe get closer to Khorkina's greatness by winning multiple AAs at Euros, Worlds and Olympics, so for now, no, Khorkina is THE queen.
So, nothing new here. If you don't speak Russian, you haven't read Khorkina's memoir "Somersaults in high heels" (it was only published in Russian), but I have and, basically, here's the summary: everyone's trash, I'm the greatest, I won all the things except the times when I was robbed.
Khorkina was a pretty spectacular gymnast, but she's really not a smart person and the more she talks, the more you can see it. I remember once after some competition Russian gymnasts complained about unfair judging (like always) and Khorkina gave an interview saying that you should always compete without drama and never accuse anyone of anything. I was like "looooook, who's talking now!"