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Masters champion Olga Milenina: Smile and morning exercises are the best way to start a new day

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08.08.2015, 19:45 Sport
Olga Milenina, the Masters synchro swimming gold medallist, sat down for an interview with a reporter of the Kazan 2015 OC’s Press Office and told whether it is easy or not to compete as an athlete after being a referee for a while, about the role a Greek singer played in her performance and how she stays remarkably fit at the age of 74.

 – How come you decided to start doing synchronised swimming? How long have you been doing it?

– Back then in 1959, at the Luzhniki Stadium, I saw the performance which was originally called artistic swimming. The first thing I did was to find out the name of the coach, famous Valery Bure, who later brought up two sons and one of them even became an Olympic champion. He gave me two weeks to think everything over. Being so eager to start right away, I exclaimed: “Why? Two weeks are too long!” And he said: “All right, you can come tomorrow.” And since then I have been officially involved in synchronised swimming.

– You’ve been there when synchronised swimming was making its first steps in Russia. Can you tell us how the sport was evolving?

– I was not that young, around 18 I guess when I started my practices. I claimed my first bronze at the Moscow Championships, although I'd had only six months of preparation before the event. My technical routine was amazing actually, that was the time when Yuri Gagarin made his first journey to outer space. It gave me an idea of sports-oriented and cosmic idea for my routine. My swimsuit was featuring a rocket; there was a red star on my cap and I performed to a patriotic song.

– You’ve been on a break pretty long time. What made you come back to the sport?

– I’ve been a referee for a very long time, at the USSR I’ve even been delivering various workshops to the judges on how to officiate; mostly I have been engaged into social work. LEN, the European Swimming League, has even awarded me with gold medal which I was supposed to get in Yalta in 2011. Back then in 2011 Yalta was holding the European Masters Championships and I was invited to take part in it. I thought it was a good idea and had a try. It was the time when I came back to the sport, successfully performing at the European Championships and at the next Championships in Italy in 2012 where I placed 4th. In Russia, at the home Championships, I was also asked to perform and to give my support to our country!

– How did you come up with your performance? How much time did it take you to bring your ideas to life?

– In February I was finally talked into participating and since then I started training no more than an hour every single day because I have a second category disability. In Moscow every swimming pool is always open for me. I had no problems with training sessions.

– You’ve mentioned living in Greece for a while before the Championships. Did it somehow affect the idea of your performance?

– I’ve been living in Greece for a year and a half. I've always been attracted to Greek singer Demis Roussos very much, unfortunately he passed away the time I was about to leave for Russia. Then an excellent idea came to my mind. Paying tribute to his memory I decided to bring something Greek to Russia. It was his song serving as a background to my performance because all his songs are inspiring, heartwarming and touching. Of course there have been some people who gave me recommendations concerning my technique and music but in general I’ve been training all by myself.

– In synchronised swimming, routines never repeat themselves. How did you create your routine?

– I’ve been working on it all on my own. I built the new performance based on my personal experience. I added elements that I used to perform or saw somewhere. No doubt synchronised swimming has been developing and I tried to follow new trends but to tell the truth some technical elements that are performed today are beyond my possibilities. I am afraid, I am an old-school synchro swimmer.

– Please tell us about your performance. What did you manage to achieve and what did you fail at these Championships?

– You know I failed to execute my first connection. The other night during my practice everything was great, the crowd even applauded me after I executed it. I still feel disappointed that I failed to perform it properly.

– Did you actually expect to earn gold medal? Or to receive such a warm welcome here in Kazan?

– In the lead-up to the Championships, I’ve been searching the Internet, tracking ten best swimmers of my age group who had previously competed in Masters competitions. I was practically ready to get into top 10 but it so happened that I managed to take gold medal.

– And how is it to be the world champion? Is it your first gold medal?

– I am very happy, really! Since I’d been refereeing most of the time, I did not happen to perform myself a lot. Now I am a happy owner of two medals from European and world championships. I only lack an Olympic medal (laughs).

– How do you assess the way everything is organised here? How do you like Kazan?

– You know volunteers are the first people who make a positive impression on visitors. Greet and meet volunteers are all beautiful, polite and smiley girls; the staff working at the security stations are also nice and friendly. They all make us feel at home. Even people working in public transport seem to be happy and proud of Kazan hosting these Championships. 

– Will you reveal a secret of being so remarkably fit at your age?

– You know I start every single day with morning exercises. First I lie down for a while and do various exercises that come to my mind. I don’t do any specific exercises, for example for flat abs or something like that. Exercises are usually useful and effective when they are done for pleasure. Only when your body enjoys it, all these exercises do good to you and bring beauty, joy and energy. It is quiet individual; it depends on a person. Some people can do 20 push-ups at once, others should start doing them step by step, first five push-ups, then six and in two weeks the result will definitely be better. Sport is generally known to be a slow ascent to the top.

– Apart from constant practices, athletes have special type of nutrition. Will you tell us something about it?

– Athletes are supposed to eat meat, although some people have the opposite point of view. I personally like eating meat. It might depend on the amount of calories I burn because I usually ride a bike, swim a lot. I am a very active person. The calories first burn, then the body needs to restore it. It is sort of energy circle that charges me through.

– What is the best way to start a new day?

– Smile and morning exercises are surely the best way to start a new day. If you welcome this world with a happy smile on your face, it will pay you many times back! 

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