Anna Pavlova says serious preparations underway ahead of European Games

By: Amina Nazarli

Women’s artistic gymnastics, an Olympic sport, is one of the disciplines which will be presented at the European Games in Baku. Three gymnasts will compete for the six sets of medals – for the team standings, individual all-around and individual competitions – on the balance beam, uneven bars, vault and floor exercises, will represent Azerbaijan during the Games.

Azerbaijani gymnast Anna Pavlova – a potential participant at the Games opened up to Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation press service. In her interview she discussed her involvement and love of gymnastic, her ambitions and plans for the future.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

Question – How did you turn to gymnastics? Why did you choose this sport?

Anna – My parents were coaches in gymnastics, and I grew up in the hall. I did not have of a choice.

I began training when I was about 4 years old.

Question – Have you tried other sports? Did you display talent in other disciplines?

Anna – I tried a few different sports and disciplines. At one point I was very involved in music and chess games. Then I went to school and soon I was asked to make a decision … I chose gymnastics. It was my choice. Both my parents and grandmother were against it. They wanted me to get involved in dancing, but dancing wildly irritated me. Now I am grown up I do enjoy dancing but as a child I found it boring.

Question – How do you deal with your emotions during competitions? Any special tricks or techniques to help you stay in control?

Anna – It depends. I usually try to focus on the technicality, remembering my training and so on but it’s always that easy. Sometimes nerves take over but as an athlete you learn to deal with such stressful situation.

Question – What is the key to success in any sport?

Anna – Working on yourself and the desire to win.

Question – How dangerous is it to be engaged in professional sports, or does it depend on the sport?

Anna – All professional sports carry a degree of danger and training at such high intensity can indeed lead to health problems. That being said it provides athletes which such a sense of achievement. Gymnastic is different form other sports in that you alone determined how far you can do. You really are in competition with yourself. Your performance depends on how well you trained. General gymnastics is also good for health. Professional sport offers athletes the opportunity to travel, to make a name for themselves and improve their lifestyle. I cannot imagine what I will do after I retire. There is an opportunity to pursue a career as a coach, but I am not ready to take this step. Moreover, I am used to my way of life – I am constantly on the move visiting new countries and regions.

Question – Do you have a sport’s idol?

Anna – No. There are people whom I respect for their achievements. I do not consider imitation appropriate.

Question – Tell us about your plans for the near future.

Anna – Due to my injury, I find it hard to plan anything. Now I have one goal – to heal my foot and prepare for the European Games. I want to be on top form. I had a surgery two months ago, but it all went a bit wrong. After the injury, I was told it would be difficult to recover. I am still waiting to see if I can actually make it. After the European Games we will see if it is advisable for me to pursue my career. However, every day becomes harder for me. I have to work it out for myself, because soon the World Championships will start.

Question – What do the European Games mean for you and how do you prepare for them?

Anna – When I finished my career for the first time, I arrived in Baku. I like it very much and decided to stay here for 3 years. I was not able to attend the Universiade. At first, one coach did not allow me, then another one. After that I suffered from trauma. I believe that the European Games, where almost all sports will be presented, are something similar to the Universiade. For me it is very interesting. I would like to try myself at the Games.

Question – If we move a little bit away from sport – do you have any aspirations or dreams that you want to achieve?

Anna – I do not know. I do not dream about something special, but I want to make something of myself outside sport. Because sport is fine, I have achieved a lot, but it will end.

So I need to find something else. I do not know what else can interest me. One never knows about it until he/she tries. For example, coaching attracts me. I would like to try it. I would like to teach children.

Question – Are you able to combine sport with normal life?

Anna – I live and breathe sport. I cannot imagine myself without sport. It is my life.

Question – Tell us about your family.

Anna – My family is small. My dad died, and my mother is my personal trainer. Also a younger brother helps me in terms of organizational issues. There are first cousins, second cousins, brothers and sisters; and I consider them family members. I try to see them often. If not, we constantly keep in touch through social networks.

Question – Do you have a loved one?

Anna – No, I haven’t.

Question – What do your fans usually shout, and what do you want to hear from them?

Anna – They shout whatever they want (laughing). When they are supporting me, I am very happy. Their encouragements make me stronger.

Question – What would you like to tell them?

Anna – I want to tell them that their support is very important for every athlete. We have recently been on a showcase tournament in Mexico and we were greeted very warmly. Fans supported us, shouted encouragements, and it was all very emotional. I would like to thank all those who support us and root for us.