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Part 2 of “sports interview” with powerlifting champion Irina Zinoveva

Remember last week’s Matryoshka Diary post? Right, we were asking Irina, a successful businesswoman and a sportsman about nutrition, sports in Russia, powerlifting and other motivational things. Make sure you looked through the Part 1 and continue reading. Today Irina gives an important advice to amateurs, tells about sports in the USSR and the best time to start doing sports. The post would be of high interest for those who are fond of Russian sports or try to choose a perfect activity to stay healthy. Enjoy!

What piece of advice can you give to someone who is thinking about doing sports?

To be honest, sport is a serious and difficult business. For example, it’s impossible to start doing some specific types of sport in adulthood because the technique of these sports must be perfected from a certain age. This is, for example, heavy lifting and sport ballroom dance. The results are very important in sport. That’s why there is a strict selection of people who want to join sport clubs of different kinds. Every person is an individual who is genetically programmed for potential sports results. Great runners and athletes are born to be like that.

If we are not talking about the professional sport, but about the recreational one, then you can choose anything – running, sambo or ballroom dancing, it’s up to you, depends on your personal preferences. I don’t like running, so I don’t do that. By the way, anyone can do athletics or running at any age! A question about choosing a trainer is also tricky. If it’s a child, then he/she is usually taken to a sports club by parents. If it’s an adult, then before going to boxing classes or a gym, we obviously will find out what kind of instructors work there, what feedback other clients give to them and what results they are able to achieve. Then we decide if the instructor is suitable or not. About the diet…

I would recommend an adequate and nutritious diet. Of course, there are specific requirements for some types of sport, for example, an increased intake of protein in bodybuilding. These kinds of details are discussed with the coach and you need to rely on the specialized literature.

At what age can one start exercising? Are there any downsides to it?

I already mentioned the age, but will repeat myself. There are specific age restrictions in some sports clubs. Every type of sport has its own selection requirements. For example, 3 + years old children are accepted to gymnastics and figure skating, 4+ years old children – to swimming, 8 + years old – to fighting, and from 10 y.o. – to heavy lifting. There are downsides of course. It’s sport, it’s not a recreational physical activity. The future sportsman must be in a premium health condition.

In your opinion, what kind of sport was popular in the USSR and what is popular now among youth and adults?

It used to be impossible to do sport that is available to us right now, such as some types of martial art.

  • Karate and wrestling were prohibited.
  • Boxing and sambo were popular.

    Vasily Alekseev
    Vasily Alekseev
  • At the moment, all kinds of martial art are popular in Russia, both contact and contactless such as aikido. Box is still very popular. There are studios and fitness sections based on boxing.
  • Weightlifting and kettlebell lifting were popular in the Soviet time. The Soviet weightlifters and kettlebell-lifters –  Yuri Vlasov, Leonid Zhabotinsky, Vasily Alekseev –  are legends to this day.
Yuri Vlasov
Yuri Vlasov

But nowadays, weightlifting and kettlebell lifting lost its popularity. It’s mostly due to underfinancing. While in the USSR the development of the weightlifting and kettlebell lifting sports was heavily financed, in the modern capitalism these kinds of sport don’t bring financial return. Another reason is the alternative of doing powerlifting and bodybuilding, these types of sport didn’t exist in the USSR.

All ball games were very popular: volleyball, basketball and, of course, football. All boys could play football, even the geekiest ones. Athletics were very developed, including the sports, which contemporary youth is not interested in: the javelin, the hammer throw, the pole jumping, the disco ball and the triple jump. Cycling was also very popular and so were almost forgotten types of sport, such as rowing and sailing. Of course, nowadays we also have these kinds of sports, but fewer people are engaged in them than before.

Now after a long period of being forgotten, tournaments regain their popularity. We even got a new word for those who pat take – “tournamen”.

I think that skiing has been popular in both the USSR and Russia. In our region, for example, every spring we have a marathon in the name of the Olympic Champion from our city, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Yulia Chepalova. However, the blade running lost its popularity amongst masses. I think it happened because of the lack of access to the ice rings during the summer time, and it also became rare to have a mini ice-skating ring outside. Nowadays special permissions are required for this kind of thing. No one wants to be fussed.

But last year in the river bank in our city in winter there was a large ice-skating ring and everyone just loved it! The ring was filled with ice-skating fans. I hope that this tradition will continue.
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And if you do want to be able to talk about sports in Russian, choose a course and come to our School. We invite Russian spirtsmen, talk about healthy lifestyle at Speaking clubs and participate into sport events with our students!

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