Russian gymnasts are known to be among the best in the world. They have participated in the Olympic Games since 1996 and always brought home medals. At the World Championship, European Games, and Junior World Championships they succeeded at winning the gold medals. If you have seen them doing their performances, you should know why they won. For Russian gymnasts, perfection is not an option; it’s a must. This has raised many questions by gymnastics enthusiasts, especially about how these gymnasts were trained. Maybe it’s true that with no pain there’s no gain, and sweat means weakness leaving the body. Let’s now take a look at how these young athletes got trained to succeed.
The Artistic Gymnastics Federation of Russia
This is the governing body of gymnastics in Russia which is also a member of the European Union of Gymnastics and the International Federation of Gymnastics. Until 1949, the development and improvement of gymnastics in the USSR was led by the Gymnastics Section of the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. The most likely year of the creation of the leading organization of gymnasts – the Gymnastics Section – was 1930, when the All-Union Council for Physical Culture and Sports (VSFC) was formed under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR. After the USSR Gymnastics Section entered the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 1949, it became known as the USSR Gymnastics Federation. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the federation’s name was changed into the Gymnastics Federation of Russia.
The Famous Russian Gymnasts
Russia has been participating in every Olympic Games since 1996. From 24 female gymnasts sent to represent the country, 19 medals have been won. Russia’s gymnast team has been considered as one of the toughest teams in the Olympic Games. Here are some of the Russian gymnasts you might have heard of:
1. Yevgeniya Kanayeva; a Russian ryhthmic gymnast who is the only one in history to win two Olympic all-around gold medals from the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. She is known for her elegant routines and high level of technical difficulty and has been the recipient of the International Fair Play Award for “Sport and Life.”
2. Viktoria Komova; the 2010 Youth Olympics All Around Champion, the 2011 World Uneven Bars Champion and All Around silver medalist, and the 2012 Olympics All Around Silver medalist.
3. Ksenia Dudkina; the 2012 Olympics Group All Around champion, 2012 European Group All Around gold medalist, and 2010 Youth Olympic Games Grup All Around champion.
4. Aleksandr Balandin; well known for his work on the still rings, also competed at the Olympic Games.
5. Aliya Mustafina; considered as one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time. She was the most decorated gymnast at the 2012 Summer Olympics with four medals including one gold, one silver, and two bronze.
Russian Gymnastics Training Camp
So, what is the actual recipe that makes Russian gymnasts so good at what they do? There is a camp called Ozero Krugloye (means Round Lake), 20 miles away from Moscow. It occupies 96,000 square meters of land surrounded by a woodland park and serves as a training base for the swimming, fencing and gymnastics national teams. The camp has been around for decades since 1953 and modernized in 1980 as a preparation for the Olympic Games. Ozero Krugloye is like an academy that operates all year round, not only near an event. The athletes are prepared not only for international events but also conditioned for studying (in classrooms and library), resting, recovering, nutrition, and a comfortable living. They are also taken care by a team of professionals including coaches, doctors, and masseurs.
Two gymnastics teams are training in the camp; national and pre-elite. The gymnasts that belong in the teams are trained to success physically as well as mentally. The former head of the national team said that it usually took ten years to raise a gymnastics champion with six-hour training each day. These gymnasts start at very young age and so it is almost certain that all of them live and breathe gymnastics. Massage is one of the mandatory parts of the training program in Ozero Krugloye. All of the gymnasts will end their days on a massage table to make sure their bodies are fit and right for the next day’s training. To all athletes, their bodies are their most valuable assets that must be taken care at all costs.
To some of the young girls in Russia, to be selected as a part of the national team is like a dream comes true. And for them who are already in the training, to win a competition is a way for them to pay gratitude to the camp and their coaches for all the top-notch facilities and best trainings they have received in years. This is why Russian gymnasts are very determined; winning is rooted deep in their spirit.
It is undeniable that the trainings the Russian gymnasts have to endure are very tough, highly discipline and not for the faint of hearts. Gymnastics is not only a tradition to the country but also a pride that must be maintained and carried on through generations. The government invests a lot to raise these extraordinary gymnasts and that is why gymnastics have always been a branch of sport that must be taken seriously in Russia. The athletes start at very young age and shaped body and mind at the camp to achieve champion mentality and physiques. Now that you know how Russians train for gymnastics, there should be a new light shed in your horizon about the country’s style of sport.