In the third part of the interview Oleg Verniaev talks about his gym life.
The original interview is in Russian and you can read it here.
Q: What has changed in the national team since 2015 Worlds when you were the 12th? Can the team fight for the podium in the new quad?
A: We will certainly try. Just in a year we jumped from the 12th to 8th place, made the final in Rio. When we arrived at the Test event, top coaches thought that we might take the 5th place, maybe. We also had a bad podium training there, one guy basically broke down on all the apparatuses. We, then, called this guy our secret weapon, because at the competition he got himself together and gave his best, and the rest of the guys also did a good job, without hufe mistakes, so we got second and people started considering us again. Now we’re getting some new younger athletes, the coach is trying to motivate everyone, everyone’s busy. Just recently I was at the gym, almost finished, just sitting there. One guy went to lift barbell, two others went to train pommel horse, and the coach says “I’ll give 50 grivnas to the person who’ll do three helicopters”* So, immediately 7 people gathered around, three people did the “helicopters” and we “robbed” our coach of 150 grivnas.
*Apparently, some difficult exercise, I’m not familiar with it and googling it in Russian didn’t help, so I’m leaving it to your imagination to figure out what “helicopters” areJ))
We don’t have pits in the gym and they can’t be added to this existing gym. So, for example, I’m trying to learn triple salto on rings, and I’ve done it before, so I can do it on the mats. But the guys who’ve never done it can’t do it on the mats, because it’s such a risky dismount, they have to do it into a pit first. Maybe some of them could do the triple salto, but we just don’t have the conditions, so they’re not learning it. Things like that stall the team progress. The only solution would be building a new gym.
Q: How do you motivate yourself to work, when you really don’t want to?
A: I sit by the warm heater and wait till my coach shakes me awake again. Without a coach, it’s extremely hard to make myself do anything. I need motivation: telling off sometimes, encouragement at other times, I always need a mentor.
Q: Did you have a thought after the Olympics, that now you’re an Olympic champion, so you don’t need training, because it’s for weaker athletes?
A: I’ve had such thought even before the Olympics. And when I got the gold at the Olympics, too, I’ve had thoughts like: “Win Euros – check, win Worlds – check, win Olympics – check, win University games – check, win World Cup – check, what else would I need? Maybe I should retire?” Yeah, I’ve had these thoughts, but they leave my head pretty soon. I made certain goals for the next 4 years, and I’m going to work on achieving them.
Q: Can you tell us about your first coaches? Are you planning on coaching in the future?
A: My first coach’s name is Mikhail Vasilyevich, he used to be a circus artists. He trained me only for half a year. Then he sent me to Olga Ermakova, and she was my first serious coach, she trained me till I was 13, and I won my first Nationals with her. We were her first kids. Frankly, she didn’t quite know yet what to do with us, she was learning during the process. Five or six people from our group of 15 made “master of sport”, that was very good for the first ever group of trainees, especially for a female coach in MAG. She built our balance, made us love gymnastics, played with us. She was also pretty strict, as they say, she trained us with carrot and a stick.
When she left for Australia, her husband, Yuri Vladimirovich Ermakov, trained us. He’s a bronze Olympic medalist. We trained with him for two years, and then I finished high school and moved to Kiev, because there were more options here. Regarding coaching in the future, I don’t think I’ll be doing it. I don’t really know a lot about coaching, all the details, it’s just not for me. Of course, I can help others if needed, but coach is a really difficult job, it’s a calling.
Q: Daily training, frequent competitions, and gymnastics in general – all that takes a lot of strength, time and health. Where do you get strength, how do you recover, where do you get the energy? How much time do you need to rest and what do you do?
A: Well, for instance, when I went to Germany, the first competition day was on Saturday, I competed and took a break from gym till Tuesday night. I slept, rested, just couldn’t get out of bed, because my muscles were so sore. Usually, I compete on Saturday, rest for 5 days, and then compete again. I like competing, it’s not work for me, it’s a pleasure, so it’s easy to recover from.
Q: What are the criteria for getting on the national team? Compared to you, the rest of the team kind of pales, except for Radivilov. Do people have not enough talent and motivation, or there’s simply no depth to choose from?
A: The national team is selected by the results of the Nationals. Our goal now is the next Olympics, so we will try to get people on the team who can help us there.
Q: How many people compete at the nationals?
A: Maybe, 20 or 30 who really do something. It was different once, I remember we had like 100 people competing in Kirovograd, but we don’t anymore.
Q: Are you going to compete the triple salto on floor? A lot of people started training it, Nagorny even competed it already.
A: Yeah, I saw it, he did it really well. But it’s a hard element and I haven’t mastered it yet. I’ll try, of course, the coach said the whole team has to do it. It doesn’t mean everyone will actually compete it, even if they can do it, but it might motivate others.