Yury Borzakovsky: ''Olympics in Kazan? Why not, you already hosted the Universiade!''

Exclusive interview with the head coach of the national athletic team of Russia

Yury Borzakovsky has changed spiked running shoes and tracks to the post of the head coach of the national team just recently – in 2015. And a pile of problems collapsed on his shoulders during this time. We can't say the former famous athlete has broken and doesn't handle even now when athletics in Russia is put such powerful pressure from the world and Russian press and the public. Realnoe Vremya's sports staff managed to talk with Yury Borzakovsky during the Russian Athletic Championships, which were in Kazan, and know the level of today's new generation of Russian athletes, the main complaint of the IAAF about the Athletics Federation, why Russian footballers surprised him, and how real it was for Kazan to obtain the right to host the Summer Olympic Games.

''The situation with admission affects the athletes' results in the Championships of Russia. This influences them psychologically''

Could you tell about the first results of the Russian Athletic Championships in Kazan? Judging by the first day of competition, it seemed the results were very close to a level of kids and juniors. Why?

I wouldn't say so. Look, the last time a sprinter had 10.30 was a very long time ago, which, in general, is a good result. In addition, we should probably take into consideration the team has updated now, many leaders have gone for certain reasons. This happened because they are too old, and a new generation of guys grows up. We put the main emphasis on the reserve, while it gradually grows up.

I can put an example of Polina Miller, the girl born in 2000. She was shown to me as early as 2015. Consequently, I began to involve her in training of the national team, and she grew up in front of us. She has been fourth in 200 m in Tampere now, and here, as you see, she's won 400m against notable athletes (Editor's Note: Katya Renzhina and Ksenia Aksyonova). Generations are changing, there is no surprise here. If talking about the same 800 metres, which was my specialisation, our generation, I and Bogdanov ran 800 m for 1:43-1:44. And now guys are running for 1:45-1:46, it's absolutely normal results. Declines happen in many sports, but we work on it and put emphasis on the reserve, so that the growing generation will already be in the first national team because the 2020 and 2024 Olympics are our major competitions, of course. I wouldn't say we are heavily losing.

Yes, speaking about the world level, women have run steeplechase for 8:44 – it's just a cosmic result because previously there was a world record of 8:52. And they won by 8 seconds at once. Here tribute should be paid, it's a top athlete. We also have the strictest conditions towards our team in comparison with the others. In terms of admission to international competitions, we are constantly in ignorance and tension. For instance, Aleksandr Yunkov has jumped 8.03 while his result is 8.41. And I think if Sasha had been allowed [to international competitions] these days, he would have certainly reached about 8.50, that's much further. The same thing happens to other sports. I will repeat once again there is motivation, the case is that there are difficulties with admission, and this affects some athletes' psychological state.

''I began to involve Polina Miller in training of the national team, and she grew up in front of us. She was fourth in 200m in Tampere now, and here, as you see, she's won 400m among notable athletes.'' Photo: dspkazan.com

It goes without saying that I'm not saying this as an excuse. We bring the team up, 19 people went even to the last World Championships and brought six medals – this means the team is in shape.

Can we say the reserve for the first team is created here in the Russian Championships in Kazan, while the main power is in Monaco now?

Yes, for instance, I freed six people from the Russian Championships because there are in the top 3 in Europe, and now we have a ''2+1'' selection principle – two from the Russian Championships and two from the coaching council. And these guys were chosen by the coaching council. They had a kind of carte blanche, and I gave them an opportunity to go to the Diamond League. Do you imagine Lysenko jumping here? He has jumped a height of 2.40 there, and it's unknown what a result he would have here. There has been a result there amid high competition. It's a record of Russia at the junior level, and, in general, a handful of people have jumped so.

The same thing happens to Anzhelika Sidorova. Why should she be fighting here if she can go to the Diamond League and show a top level? In addition, going there, they get international practice in the competition on the threshold of the European Championships. I think it's more important than the Russian Championships. It's a normal practice, I'm saying this as a former athlete.

Among the conditions to restore rights of the ARAF, the IAAF commission calls the legal suspension of the coaches whom they disqualified. At the same press conference, it was said they didn't understand why they continued working, including Chegin.

Chegin doesn't continue working. We don't have him in our structure. He was dismissed as soon as he was disqualified. The investigation is held around the situation when he was noticed in the place where athletes of the national team had training. At the moment RUSADA is investigating, we don't know its results so far. At the training he was noticed, Chegin wasn't on the list of our coaching staff and in the team that was to go there.

''Chegin doesn't continue working. We don't have him in our structure. He was dismissed as soon as he was disqualified. The investigation is held around the situation when he was noticed in the place where athletes of the national team had training.'' Photo: vistanews.ru

''Smolov shouldn't be accused Every athlete has ups and downs''

You've always been against naturalisation of athletes. The FIFA World Cup has ended now, and as Mário Fernandes's example has shown, naturalisation isn't always bad. Isn't it true?

Football is a team game, while athletics is an individual sport. As for football, the guys should be paid tribute. It was pleasant for me to look at our footballers who went through to the quarterfinals and could have gone further. But the lottery in the form of the penalty wasn't in our favour. As an athlete, even if I'm a runner, I will say every athlete not always succeeds, this includes Smolov too. Yes, he didn't score a penalty, but everyone can go through it. He shouldn't be accused, and we shouldn't say bad things about him. He's performed this way today, while he will be at the summit tomorrow. Every athlete has ups and downs. Look, Fernandes also did his best in the match against Croatia, scored a goal and levelled the score and then failed a penalty. How should one treat it? He should be paid tribute. And, as the practice has shown, naturalisation in a team sport is good and brings results.

Has Stanislav Cherchesov made a miracle? Or is he a real genius coach?

Mr Cherchesov should be given tribute because he didn't break under pressure. Look, the team lost a lot on the threshold of the cup. Nevertheless, he managed to make the team, psych the guys up, and these guys succeeded at a necessary moment. This is the most valuable thing for a coach. This is why I think he's a great professional because he made the team achieve such a result.

Is it similar to the preparation of athletes in athletics? An athlete approaches the major competition in his best shape.

Yes, it's important if they are in the best shape precisely during the official beginning, even not during the Championships of Russia because the Championships of Russia must be a stage for a peak for every athlete, and then they gain better shape.

Does the coach of the national athletic team of Russia have anything in common with the coach of the national football team?

The case is that I don't train personally, while Stanislav trains precisely the team. In football, everything depends on every athlete as an individual, how a player plays in his position, the total result depends on it. Athletics is an individual sport, and every athlete has a personal coach. We have a head coach in each sport – jumping, disc throw, long distance running, sprint and so on. There is a difference, but, in general, we do the same thing.

''Mr Cherchesov should be given tribute because he didn't break under pressure. Look, the team lost a lot on the threshold of the cup. Nevertheless, he managed to make the team, psych the guys up, and these guys succeeded at a necessary moment. This is the most valuable thing for a coach.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

''Olympics in Kazan? Why not? You already hosted the Universiade!''

In the last years, we've had such an event as Kazan Marathon where ten hundreds of people take part. Do you think that one should compulsorily prepare for such an event or can one run ''for oneself'', run and walk, and all will be fine?

Yes, I've heard of this marathon, it's held in Kazan in May. It seems to me it's tough to run a marathon easily, it's even tough to walk this distance. In any case, both a professional and amateur should prepare because a marathon is a marathon. It's not 5 or 10 kilometres. Here one should prepare the organism because, otherwise, it's harmful. I support preparation.

Is it a good level to have 30,000 people in the Kazan Marathon?

It's a lot enough. And I think it's correct when such events are held in Russia, in general, and abroad. They make athletics more popular. And, as practice shows, more people have participated in such marathons in Russia in the last five years. In general, people began to do a lot of sport.

There is been the news in the media just recently that Russia can be a candidate to host the Summer Olympic Games, and Kazan and Petersburg are indicated as candidates. Do you think is there any sense for Kazan in hoping?

Why not? Did you already host the Universiade? It's an analogue of the Olympics. I think if Kazan or Petersburg get such a chance, the country will do its best to hold it at the highest level. The WC that people call as the best World Cup in history has shown it.

What can you say about the infrastructure?

It's evident it will be necessary to build a big Olympic stadium as well as other Olympic facilities that will be needed.

Kazan is traditionally called the sports capital of Russia. What do you think this city's phenomenon is?

Kazan has always been a sports city. In general, Tatarstan has a correct attitude to sport, it smartly and always supports athletes in all sports. Tribute should be paid to the republic's officials. And taking advantage, I also want to thank for holding the Russian Championships for the fifth time. We'd like to see more spectators at the stadium, of course. Nevertheless, the championships are held at a high level, weather conditions favour us. And your region is really called sports for a reason, though many neighbouring regions, same Chuvashia, they have a good attitude to same athletics, this is why many championships took place there, including championships of Russia, qualifications, international competitions.

''Kazan has always been a sports city. In general, Tatarstan has a correct attitude to sport, it smartly and always supports athletes in all sports.'' Photo: dspkazan.com

Are you still performing as a DJ?

No. I was an amateur, I performed as a DJ as an amateur, I even composed music. But as soon as I became a coach in the national team, I gave it up. I have no time for it. I can listen to music in my free time, which, sadly, I don't have.

By Erik Dobrolyubov
Tatarstan

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