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Alexander Kolotov: Having come here for the Masters tournament, I was surprised how drastically Kazan has changed

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18.08.2015, 10:00 Sport
Two-time Olympic water polo medallist, European champion and founder of the USSR Tatarstan team sat down for a talk with a sports reporter of the Kazan 2015 OC’s Press Office and explained how he came up with the idea to bring together renowned water players to compete as one team.

– I congratulate your team, USSR Tatarstan, on winning the water polo tournament at the FINA World Masters Championships. It was clear that the team made of former players of the national team will be the major contender for the top podium spot but did this victory actually come as a surprise for you?
 

– Thank you for your kind words! Did it come as a surprise? No, I don’t think so. I will say without false modesty that our goal from the very beginning was to win gold medals. But the final match showed that it is not that easy. It’s not the names but the team that matters and victory is claimed by those who are in better physical shape at the moment without distinction of titles earned in the past.
 
– Do I get it right that the word ‘Tatarstan’ was added to the name of your team the day before the start of the World Masters Championships?
 

– Yes, it is true. The USSR team was founded in 2007 and we’ve played at four World Championships already, including the one that have come to an end in Kazan, and three European Championships. We’ve succeeded to win at both events (smiles). Bit there is a good reason why the word ‘Tatarstan’ was added to the team’s name. Firstly, by doing so we’ve paid tribute to the fact that Tatarstan hosted the FINA World Championships for the first time. Secondly, we want to emphasise that Tatarstan’s famous water polo players competed at this tournament. And we also show our respect to local water polo school because at the moment Tatarstan is one of the leading regions in our country to supply champions for the national team. 

– How did your team originate? 

– I am a former player of the National USSR team and from the very beginning I just wanted to bring people I used to defend our country with together so that we could go through once again the same emotions we used to experience during the international events. And of course get together once more. All this gave a rise to this idea. We just wanted to sort of unite people of one generation who used to play together or against each other at the club’s competitions but it is needless to say that all of them are acquainted from the National competitions. The majority of the athletes joined our team from the very beginning and keeps playing up to now. 

– What you mean to say is that the amateurs do not stand a chance to get in your team?

– Look there are people in our team who used to be in touch in the past, now they just want to keep up. What made you invite the Tatarstan players in your team?

–  What made you invite the Tatarstan players in your team?

– We've known each other for ages and while we were discussing our participation in the domestic World Masters tournament the first thing we did we called Irek Zinnurov, Marat Zakirov and Alexandr Romanov. It seems to be our collective idea.

– If I am not mistaken Irek Zinnurov has already played for your team?

–You are right. Irek Zinnurov was playing with us once at the Masters tournament whereas Marat Zakirov made a debut this time competing at the home tournament. I must admit he was pretty good at it.

– Did you have difficulty of inviting players for the Masters tournament?

– Of course, not everyone, who wanted to take part in Kazan, could eventually come to the tournament. The thing is not the willingness to participate in the competition, but the preoccupation with the job. Many of them, who performed on a high level, are now employed as trainers to share their knowledge and skills with youngsters. For example, we applied Andrey Belofastov, but it turned out the last moment that preparation of U19 national team concurs with that of the Masters tournament, and obviously he stayed with his team to train it for the competitions.

– Did you like how the Kazan fans meet and greet the water polo players?

– Yes, very much. I have not been to Kazan for a long time and now I’m watching with admiration the city which has changed beyond recognition. I liked it here thanks to the organisers’ great job to make everything done accurately. What beautiful venues! The Burevestnik swimming pool is brilliant! I like the Water Polo Arena where our team were able to attend the gold medal match of the regular World Championships. Magnificent facility! This is the first time I see water polo matches turn into shows. It was awesome.

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