Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sazonova on her life and training in Iceland

Today I came across this interview with Irina Sazonova, the Russian gymnast who now represents Iceland. Apparently, the interview was published before the Olympic Games, but I haven't seen it then.
The interview's in Russian, of course, so here's the summary of the main points.
Irina was born in Vologda (northwestern Russia, 450 km from Moscow) and trained there most of her childhood. Later she moved to St Petersburg. She represented Russia at the 2011 University Games. Her coach in St Petersburg was offered a job in Iceland and asked Irina to come with her to train there. A year later the coach left, but Irina decided to stay. She wanted to try something new and she was aware that her level of gymnastics is not high enough to compete on the national team, so the move seemed like a good idea. Her family is still in Vologda and they ask sometimes whether she wants to return, but she doesn't see any prospects for a gymnastics career there. She already feels like a real Icelander.
At first, the language barrier and the lack of friends were hard for her. Now she speaks Icelandic on a basic level needed in daily life, but still asks for an interpreter when she gives interviews to the local press. She's now engaged, her fiancee is also a Russian living in Iceland, she met him there.
Normally, getting Icelandic citizenship takes 8 years, but for her the process was expedited and she got the citizenship only after 3 years of living in Iceland. During these three years she was competing for her club and the national team staff realized she could be useful on the team. She became the first gymnast to represent Iceland at the Olympics.
The state pays for the gymnasts to go to the Olympics, but for smaller tournaments, like World Cups, the team needs to look for private sponsors. Gymnasts also don't get paid for being on the team, so Irina had to hold three jobs while training for the Olympics - she was a kids' coach at her club and delivered pizza (she doesn't say what was her third job). Closer to the Olympics she only had one job? as a coach, because she couldn't manage the increasing training hours and so many jobs.
The training conditions in the gym are very good, much better than the ones she had in Vologda where the gym was so tiny she had to start running for vault from outside the room. They also didn't have a gymnastics floor in Vologda. She says, however, that recently there was a new gym built in Vologda, so now it must be better.
She then talks a bit about how Icelanders love football, how high are the prices compared to Russia.
She is apparently very popular in Iceland, people recognize her on the street, she gives interviews to newspapers and tv.


  1. Do u have any news about Anna Pavlova?

    1. She is working as a coach in Moscow region, I think. She also got married recently, to another former gymnast, don't remember his name, but someone from Belarus, I believe.