You've gotten somewhat portlier. Is that an expression of worry or of joy?
L. A.: I can't exactly
say. I have a lot of work and can no longer exercise enough myself. I used to have time to
run a little and ride a bike, but all things considered, you can look at my weight gain as
an expression of joy, because work satisfies me and brings me joy.
L. A.: Mornings from 7 to 1 and evenings between 5:00 and 7:30. Besides these training sessions in our old Olympic facility, I drive into Moscow three times a week.
L. A.: I've already picked out 10 boys and 10 girls who can realistically be seen candidates for the 1999 World Championships in Tianjin and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Their abilities are, as ever, very good.
With what thoughts do you go to the World Championships in Tianjin, in
Are you already thinking past the 2000 games to 2004 in Athens?
L. A.: We're already preparing parallel a team for 2000 and another for 2004, for both the men and the women.
What percent of elite gymnasts are there still in Russia today,
compared to earlier?
Compulsories have been eliminated, and many say that "compulsory" optionals have been introduced. Many, as Karl-Heinz Zschocke, don't like this. What do you have to say about this development in world gymnastics?
L. A.: I support Karl-Heinz Zschocke's opinion. It's not so bad for our country, because we have a special training program for young gymnasts, but for the other countries, especially the weakly developed countries, it's not good, of course.
Is the team or individual success more important to you?
L. A.: The victory of the team is more important. Team competition has always been the priority to me. Team victory, however, always means good chances for individual success.
In the Sydney Olympic Village, the streets will be named after famous Olympic athletes from all over the world. One will be named after Larissa Latynina. What do you have to say? How is the most famous gymnast of the old Soviet gymnastics school?
L. A.: She is retired and lives in Moscow. She's earned it; she has won the most medals of any female athlete in the Olympic Games. She had an outstanding appearance in Melbourne in 1956. The Australians will surely still remember.
At the 1966 World Championships in Dortmund, 32 year-old Latynina stood on the world gymnastics stage for the last time, where the young gymnast Leonid Arkaev also wanted to be...
L. A.: I was too weak in Dortmund, and was for that reason only the alternate, but that made a big impression on me. I understood that because of my not-so-good behavior, I hadn't made it to world-class sport. Because of that I try to make sure that the young gymnasts I coach behave otherwise.
Was Dimitri Bilozerchev the most complicated situation to you?
L. A.: No. You could work with him. He enjoyed doing everything, with a little convincing, but you could also convince him to stick to a certain training regime. It was no problem for him to stick to certain rules, and it was pleasant coaching him.
Do you keep statistics on the number of Olympic, World Championships, and European Championships medals that you, as the coach, have helped win?
L. A.: I used to have those statistics. I haven't been keeping up with the numbers anymore, but I can say, of course, that about 400 Olympic, World Championships, and European Championships medals have been won under my leadership, about 150 of those gold. As far as the team medals are concerned, every single medal isn't counted, but rather one per team.
With those numbers you are the most successful gymnastics coach of all time, maybe even the most successful coach of all time...
L. A.: As far as gymnastics goes, I agree, but I haven't really thought about the second part of the question.
If you were young again, would you want to be a coach again?
L. A.: Yes!
What is the hardest part, and what is the best part about this job?
L. A.: If you don't love gymnastics, it's very hard tohave success in this job.
Thank you for the talk, and good luck for the Russian teams on the way to Tianjin in October!
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