Valery Belenky: "I hope one day I'll come back to Azerbaijan"

Interviews

An Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics Valery Belenky, who won the first Azerbaijani Olympic gold medal in this sports in 1992, arrived in Moscow at the beginning of the week to attend the 24th International Artistic Gymnastics Tournament Mikhail Voronin Cup, in order to observe the Azerbaijani team's performance. Valery Belenky told Vestnik Kavkaza about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani gymnastics.

- Valery Vladimirovich, how did you come up with the idea to attend the Mikhail Voronin Cup this year?

- I work as a coach now, I am the second coach of the German national team, I live in Stuttgart, I train five boys - members of the German national team. Since they are in military training camps now, I had time to visit Russia to attend the Voronin Cup. I knew Mikhail Voronin since time when I was an athlete, we trained in Dynamo together. And I also came to see my friends from Baku, I'm especially pleased to see my relatives. I grew up in Baku and love this city very much, I really miss Azerbaijan and hope one day I'll come back there.

- What are the prospects of artistic gymnastics in Azerbaijan?

- As for artistic gymnastics, it is progressing now, and there is still considerable potential for its development. I wish the republic to train strong own gymnasts in the future. I know that the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation has already invited several coaches and specialists, who have started to work actively. I hope that in the near future Azerbaijan will win artistic gymnastics medals at the biggest competitions.

- What makes a successful athlete?

- One must spend all his childhood and devote most of his life to become an Olympic champion. When I was training, I had training sessions three times per day, and they took so much time that I almost didn't have time for anything else. I do not regret that I devoted all my life to this wonderful sport and achieved such success. But not every person can become an Olympic champion, one also needs talent for that, and if one does not have it, it will be very difficult to win. Although raw talent isn't enough to become an Olympic champion, it also requires hard work.

- What was the most memorable moment from your Olympic past?

- When I  represented the CIS team in Barcelona in 1992, we won the team championship in gymnastics. Of course, we were happy, it was my first Olympic medal, and it was a gold one. And then we were allowed to perform under the flags of our republics. So, when I competed in the all-around and won another bronze medal, of course, it was an unforgettable moment of life for me, as I had the opportunity to represent my republic at such a high international level.

- In your opinion, does sport remain outside of politics?

- I will answer as an athlete. If a person did not take any doping, he should be allowed to compete and must act under the flag of his homeland. The combination of politics with sports looks wrong, this is my personal opinion. If a person does not use performance-enhancing drugs and only works to prepare himself for the Olympic Games, and then he is banned, this is wrong, dishonest and unfair.

- Which countries show the best results at the 24th International Tournament Mikhail Voronin Cup?

- Russia has been and will be the strongest in gymnastics. This is a big country with a lot of young talents. It has nice boys, they are even nice to look at. Japan has very good juniors, and I hope that I will see such athletes from my native Azerbaijan in the future.