Thursday, December 22, 2016

Petro Pahniuk on his career in Azerbaijan and why he returned to Ukraine

We've already learned that recently Azeri gymnastics federation, displeased with the results, got rid of the MAG national team coach and that former Ukrainian gymnast Petro Pahniuk left as well (not clear whether it was his decision).

Petro gave an interview to a Ukrainian website in which he talks about why he originally left Ukraine, how was his life in Azerbaijan and what are his plans for the future.
Here's a short summary.
He says he desperately missed Ukraine and his friends and family from the very first weeks in Azerbaijan. He originally left because of the lack of support and funding for MAG in Ukraine and hoped that with better funding he'd be able to achieve higher results. He also had issues with the new NT coach in Ukraine and didn't want to work together. Azerbaijan offered him a good salary and the training conditions there were on another level entirely, so he didn't think long before switching.
At the same time he says that in Ukraine everyone's very professional and knows how to train champions even in dismal conditions, while in Azerbaijan the higher-ups don't really know how to get results. He thinks this lack of strategic planning on the behalf of the coaches/team coordinators hampered his success and he could have had better results in Ukraine. He also feels that he was really needed  and missed on the Ukrainian national team this cycle, because it seriously lacked depth. He still loves the Ukrainian team, is very proud of them and wants to be a part of the team, even in horrible training conditions.
He is still holding an Azeri FIG license, so he'd need to be officially released by the federation. The Ukrainian federation supports his return and they'll have to ask Azerbaijan for release. Petro says that if he doesn't get a release, he'll have to wait 1 year before he can compete for Ukraine, but he's willing to do it. I know that Olympics require 3 years break, does FIG have different rules?
It seems from his tone that he expects the Azeri federation to cause trouble and, maybe, not grant a release. Looks like there's bad blood between him and the federation, although he doesn't elaborate.
He believes that his decision to go to Azerbaijan was the right one at that moment, but competing for a country other than Ukraine doesn't quite work for him anymore.
He also says that, despite the governmental support, there are powers in Azerbaijan that are not happy with the success of the MAG. I suspect he might be alluding to the conflict between MAG and rhythmic gymnastics (the former NT coach Pavel Netreba said there was a big conflict as the rhythmic coaches felt that MAG is overshadowing the rhythmic gymnasts).

Also, I just checked and Pahniuk is already removed from the AGF website as a team member. He still has an FIG licence for Azerbaijan, though, valid till May 2018.

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