A Russian track-and-field athlete, merited of sports, 1995 World Champion, winner of 1997 World Cup for Race Walking for the 10 km distance.
-Irina, do you think the excitement and thrill a race walker feels on the track will come back to you while cheering on your fellow sportsmen in Saransk?
- No doubt. When I watch Race Walking, I instantly emotionally engage in the competition. I feel like I am walking on the track again, I am back in the trade, in the struggle, I am seized by emotion. It is really thrilling and my body produces so much adrenaline that I must restrain my temper in order not to jump in the track (laughs). I will probably be cheering at the start and finish line. It is a good position because most exciting things occur there.
- How can viewers’ support reach the sportsmen that are extremely tired and worn out?
- It can, of course. And it gives new energy. It even gives you goose bumps when you hear people cheering for you. Such supporter shouts are especially inspiring when everything goes smooth and you are leading or walking in the first trio. This is when you suddenly get wings and fly.
- Do athletes who represent the host country of the World Cup have any meaningful advantage over the rest?
- Yes, I think it is basically the advantage of viewers’ support and that is it it. Everything else depends entirely on athletic performance. If you are well-trained you just don’t notice the track covering and can race walk anywhere with the same result.
- There is a set phrase in the Russian language – “representatives of the race walking school of our country”. Could you please describe them?
- I am biased, naturally, but I think that Russian race walkers are the best in terms of technique because when they are trained, the focus is laid on their technical skills. I can always tell the trainees of Chegin by their distinctive style. I think that Russian athletes, both boys and girls, have a perfect walk.
- Does Race Walking as a sport have a rival in Saransk?
- Our city is sports friendly and there are various interests, but if we take athletic achievements, our Race Walkers can only be equaled by freestyle wrestlers. I do not see any other rivals.
- Is it true that your daughter has gone in for Race Walking too?
- Yes, my elder daughter. For years we have tried to cultivate her love for this kind of track-and-field athletics, but all in vain until last year she finally got the taste for it. Thus, she started training at the age of 13. I am fully aware of the hardships she will have to face in case she opts for professional Race Walking. But, I will not try to talk her out of this. Mothers should support their kids.