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"European Games, a good step for development of acrobatics", Diakova-Leonov

10 March 2015

Less than one hundred days left until the European Games, which will bring together about 6,000 strongest athletes. 20 sports will be represented during this large scaled event; acrobatics (mixed pairs and women's groups who will compete for six sets of medals) is among them.

Our athletes Uliana Diakova and Anatoliy Leonov will represent the country among the mixed pairs. They have already won two gold and one silver medal during the Open Joint Azerbaijan Championships in gymnastics disciplines.

Press service of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation took a small interview with them, in which our athletes told about how they have got involved in gymnastics and many other things.

Tell us how you got involved in gymnastics. Why did you choose this sport?

Uliana: I was led to acrobatics, when I was 11 years old. Previously, I went to dancing courses. Then they said I should try acrobatics and I liked it. Therefore, I decided to stay.
Anatoliy: I’ve got involved in gymnastics a long time ago. In school they said it is necessary to do something. The children were told that there is a section of acrobatics. Then I just came in and I liked it. After two years, I didn’t want to left acrobatics.

How do you think, could you perform in any other sport?
 As a child, I wanted to get involved in diving and swimming, but hardly I would able to succeed.
A.: Maybe I would able to. Being a child, I loved karate and other martial arts.

How do you deal with your emotions on the day of competition? Have you any special secrets of self-control?
 I set myself for a very long time and always being very nervous before performances. I tell myself that everything will be fine, everything has been done many times and worked out in training, it just must be repeated. I give confidence to myself.
A.: I have a lot of experience. I am in acrobatics for 20 years. I was excited when I was a little child. Now, I even not set myself particularly. I know what I need to do and there is no excitement. I concentrate to not to forget anything. This is the most important thing.

What do you think is the most important aspect in any sport?
 The nature and ability to concentrate.
A.: The ability to pay attention to details. This is how to make progress.

How dangerous is to be engaged in professional sports, or does it depend on the sport?
I think that there is no danger if to work head with head. One needs to think about every move and control himself. It is necessary to set up and to draw conclusions from the mistakes.
A.: I think it all depends on the coach. If he is a good specialist, does the job right, then you will not be injured. Fortunately, in my career, I had no serious injuries.

Do you have an idol in the sport?
 I have no idols.
A.: I always repeat: "you shall not make for yourself an idol". In other sports, there can be an idol, but there are no idols in acrobatics. If you admire a rival, he will never loses possession.

Tell us about your sports plans for the near future.
 Before European Games, we will go to the World Cup to be held in Bulgaria and then we will start intensive preparations for the Games.
A.: We do not plan anything further European Games. However, we consider the European Championships which will take place in October.

What do the European Games mean for you and how do you prepare for them?
 I think that European Games is a very large competition, the scale of which is amazing. Everyone knows about the European Games, about disciplines. Everyone is set up that the Games to be successful and, even now, on a test event there were many fans. At the European Games, there will be 10 times more people. I think that these events can be compared with the Olympics Games.
A.: People have no clue what acrobatics is. EG is a good step for the development of this sport. This event helps very much to promote it. Everyone begin to learn about this sport slowly.

If we move a little bit away from sport - do you have any aspirations or dreams that you want to achieve?
 I want to finish 9th grade.
A.: I want only one thing - to win the European Games.

Are you able to combine sport with normal life?
 It can be difficult. However, it is worth (laughing). We have to quit school bag, take training one and to run to the gym after school.
A.: I have been working as a photographer in my spare time. Train for three to four hours per day and then I do everything I like. It is not so hard to combine for me. Thanks to my wife that she understands me and supports.

Tell us about your family.
 First mom and dad did not understand why I went to the acrobatics. They wanted me to finish with it. Now they support me, watching my progress. They are pleased when I take medals.
A.: My wife is always there with me. She is a photographer and a frequent visitor to take our photos. She could not come to the test event, but really wanted to.

What do your fans usually shout, and want do you want to hear from them?
 We do not always hear the screams of the fans, because all our attention is focused on the exercise. While cheering for teammates, we understand how tremendous support we have from fans. We are very pleased to realize that people root for us, wishes luck.
A.: It inspires a lot. We heard screaming, but we do not always understand what is happening.

What would you like to tell them?

U.: Many thanks to all who support us. We are very pleased to know that in our country great attention is paid.
A.: I want to thank you for coming. I want you to come with friends and family to the European Games.