For years Kazakhstan's Yernar Yerimbetov was a fixture at men's competitions. He finished 6th AA at the 2001 Worlds (after leading the pack at the halfway stage) and 4th AA at the 2003 Worlds. He also made a number of major vault finals over the years, although he seldom medaled in them, mainly because he seemed to have trouble sticking his second vault, a Yurchenko double back (watch Yerimbetov's vaults in the final of the 2006 Worlds here). Then he disappeared, after being sidelined by a serious shoulder injury. Now he's attempting a comeback. Which is to say: he hopes to compete at the World Championships this year.
Recently, a Kazakhstani site, Gazeta, caught up with Yerimbetov, who will turn 29 next month. The interview below was published on January 15.
(photo: Laurent Fievet/Getty Images)
The Return Of Yerimbetov
Yernar Yerimbetov, one of Kazachstan's most experienced gymnasts, is intending to return to his former glory in the coming season. He is as ever the number one in Kazachstan. However, fate has dealt him some surprises. Recently the gymnast has disappeared from view because of a severe injury to the shoulder, which he suffered in Moscow two years ago. He missed the Olympics in Beijing as well as a number of international competitions. But now that the injury has healed, he is again back in circulation. In any case he himself considers himself to be so. What could be more important?
"I was really badly injured," Yernar remembers. "I've already spent a whole year recovering, which is enough to really lose your physical form. I've needed a considerable amount of time to restore my former physical condition. I'm now participating in international competitions. I'm attempting to rebuild the confidence of the Kazachstanis, who had already started to forget about me little by little. The main thing is that I believe in myself and I'm not going to throw in the towel."
Q: Does the injury bother you?
A: Generally it aches a little when the weather is overcast or when it is cold. It hurts particularly in winter. I try not to think about it.
Q: The national coaches, Timur Amirbekov and Alexander Kalish, are constant in their support of you during their interviews with our journalists. They always include you as a member of the national team, so that you will return to form as soon as possible...
A: This flatters me. I think they do this out of fellow-feeling for me. Nevertheless, after such an injury it is difficult for any athlete to return to sport. It is impossible to do without support. Mid-December I competed in Moscow, at the Mikhail Voronin Cup, and many there recognized me: judges, athletes, other people. Everyone is very happy that I have returned to gymnastics. Remember, I sustained my injury in front of them. All the good wishes warm my soul. This is very important for me. It would be important for any athlete. I thank them for everything!
Q: Did your results [at the 2008 Voronin Cup] differ from those which you received prior to the injury?
A: Of course, and noticeably so. Earlier I could compete in four disciplines. Now I'm only competing in vault. Therefore, this could not but affect my results.
(photo: Sing Lo/Comaneci-salto)
Q: What you do expect from the new season?
A: This year I will only take part in one large competition: the World Championships in London, which are scheduled for October. The other tournaments, for example the World Cup competitions, are unfortunately not for me. I will dedicate all of these ten months to preparing for competition in London.
Q: Yernar, what can you tell us about the coming generation?
A: It has come about that we don't have too many gymnasts on the national team. Our young gymnasts (Sado Batsiev, Maxim Petrishko, Stanislav Valiev) obviously do not have enough experience yet. Of course they certainly have enormous potential. They have a great future ahead of them.
Q: And the more experienced ones?
A: We have outstanding lads. And they are good athletes. I am thinking of Timur Kurbanbaev, Eldar Valeev and Stepan Gorbachev. They are constantly taking part in important competitions. That says enough.
Q: Are you training somewhere at the moment?
A: Yes, of course. I can't allow myself to rest too much. I am now conducting daily training sessions in Almaty. I would like to return to my earlier form as soon as possible.