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Sergey Kushchenko: “In order to make mass sport popular we need to disseminate it massively”

Counting down hours before the first race of the season, remembers the key decisions of the past summer. About the consultations of nutritionist, summer world championship 2014 in Tyumen, sport director’s position and the best ideas of the season in a big interview of the RBU’s CEO and the IBU’s first vice-president Sergey Kushchenko.

— Sergey, only few hours are left before the new season’s start – the teams are determined and the goals for the season are clear, however there was not so many information regarding the organizational decisions made this summer.

— One of the main tasks was the proper communication between all organisations that participate in the team’s life. We had many joint meetings with the Sports Ministry, Medical agency and Olympic committee and developed a common strategy. The first results appeared already in autumn. During the whole summer we worked on development and implementation of a new training technology. In Ufa we checked that the direction was right. The world championship showed how big was an improvement in the women and men teams’ functional conditions. How all these technologies were integrated and started to help.

— What are those technologies?

— Mostly there are technologies concerning the training and recovery processes. Starting with the rehabilitative training devices of the mobile station that will travel with the team at the world cups, and finishing with the visits of nutritionist, who have analysed a menu of the sportsmen and gave advices regarding healthy nutrition. Not only have we understood that every detail matters.

— What are the other decisions that were made in summer and turned out to be the most effective?

— It is hard to say now what will give an impulse to the maximal result – wax track, that the team will become this season and which will help to the service team to work even better? Or rehabilitation and nutrition technologies, offered by specialists of the Sports Ministry and Olympic committee? High internal competition or self-discipline of the sportsmen? If all of these ideas win us second or millimetre there will be progress.

Another important thing this summer was to give an opportunity to the national team to train in Sochi. The coaches should have seen and analysed how the local altitude influences sportsmen. The men team’s coaches decided to postpone it because of the construction works, but the women’s team went there, and the coaches did not regret.

Another positive moment regarding rehabilitation of our sportsmen – Sveta Sleptsova and Evgeny Ustyugov went through the difficult operations; however the rehabilitation process went without any serious complications. We need to thank Sergey Arkhipov, who without any exaggerations got them back on their feet. The story of Ivan Tcherezov is more complicated. He had a severe trauma. Ivan and Maxim Chudov should gather all their strengths and experience and try to get back to a former level.

We want all that work, we have done in summer, to lead to result, when as many our sportsmen as possible show high result: take podiums or be near it. This competition should show who is ready morally and physically and who is ready to sacrifice everything for a success in Sochi. Only the strongest can survive, and those sportsmen will represent our country at the Olympics.

— After the past season the RBU made a decision to elimination the post of head coach. However sport director’s position appeared in the RBU’s structure. Does it worth it?

— We just named everything with their real names. There are head coaches in every team, and they have a full responsibility for the team and results. Presence of the head coach of the national team diluted this responsibility. One day we realized that coaches did not want to make key decisions. We did not need a coach heading the team, but a sport director – this system is logical and checked in many countries. The Norway team is built this way. In biathlon we need a person who does not train, but build communication between the national teams of different levels, service team, personal coaches, regions and solve many issues that appear. I can say, that today our communication is many times better than it is used to be. Everything regarding the training camps, all technical solutions, correction of all plans go through the sport director.

— 14 months are left before the Olympics in Sochi, and only 4 months before the world cup. How is the development progressing?

— To say the truth, the IBU specialists almost do not leave Sochi. Every week one of us attends meetings. The work is serious. Quite often the management that controls a situation is Sochi has a very strict position, and this is right, as we do not simply build the objects, we build them for the Olympics, which is awaited by the whole country.

— How is the IBU assessing the progress in construction?

— There are several remarks, but they are specific and on business. About the stadium and shooting range.

— Have your colleagues from the IBU noticed the uniqueness of the Olympic stadium and track?

— Every track is unique – in some places it is more flat and in the others is steeper or has a hard approach to a shooting range. There were really difficult weather conditions in Whistler in 2010, however the relief was not hard. In Sochi vice-versa, there will be many twists and turns and difficult slopes. You should not think that it will play for our sportsmen: the difficulties are the same for all sportsmen, and the result will depend on the training technologies, self-preparation of sportsmen, and his or her conditions during the race. And about home Olympics – here we can have an opposite effect. Everything what people write and talk about the preparation to Sochi reaches sportsmen. Their responsibility becomes higher by several times. They all are under the pressure. It is good that they feel it now – there is still time to deal with it. Our athletes should be 100% ready for the Olympics. This is the last and the most difficult fight for them. Pshychology and their physical condition play a big role, and even the call from their family can become determinative.

— Was it the main theme you discussed during the meeting of the Physical culture and sports Council by the President of Russia?

— Yes. All difficult moments are obvious now for all managers! They all understand the problem of excessive expectations. We discussed all this taking into account the performance of our team at the Olympics in London. A lot was said about such serious project as preparation for the home Olympics. There were analyses of the organizational structure and preparation of our sportsmen to London. What do we need to adopt from their experience. It is clear, that many things depend on communication between all departments that participate in the sportsmen’s preparation. I also liked a speech of Olga Brusnikina – she was talking about the problems in children’s sport. This is a very important issue for us now. In 2010 when we launched a program of supplies of materials and techniques in biathlon schools we saw how serious the problems in children’s sport were.

— You mean points of growth?

— Yes. If there is a real support to skiing sports in one of the regions, this means that this region should have all conditions for development of these sports. The RBU program supports and finance those structures that have already gave a result, those who have management, staff, conditions, where government supports our sport.

For example Ustyugov – Olympic champion. We know all his coaches, including the first one. And he knows where he can find another Ustyugov and raise him. That is why his school will be one of the first to get a support – here are the rifles and skis, find another champion!

We have great condition for sport’s development in our country, and we should use them. We should write about it and support it. We should explain people how the real things are; fans need to understand where all those victories come from and why we lose.

— In September at the IBU congress one of the topics was a shortening of the quarantine for sportsmen who change their citizenship. It is two years now. How did you manage to take this issue off the agenda?

— Those countries, who have a great history and well working structures of biathletes preparation wanted to keep the quarantine. And the countries who invest money to biathlon should be protected. There is a whole tangle of problems. Laws of some countries allow an easy change of citizenship, and in other countries it is almost impossible. If we shorten the quarantine we can get such a combination of transitions, that some countries with good resources can gather all top athletes.   

— Club system?

— Yes, this is a principle of functioning of professional clubs. And there will be a free migration. Those who have money will get Martin Fourcade, Svendsen, Garanichev, Ustyugov. This will be a relay team for some country in couple of years. National flags will mean nothing. If we talk about the interests of Russia – we should keep this 2–year quarantine for development of biathlon in regions. We have many biathletes, but the national federation should keep the best of them and give an opportunity to the sportsman, who is 20th in ratings, to compete at international level for another country. We had these cases. Children school and region should get a compensation for sportsmen they have raised. The country and region spent money for training of this sportsman. I think the mechanism that we left before the next meeting should prove itself. We should leave these 2 years, however, if the national federations make a deal on their own conditions, there should be no problems. Everything should be balanced.

— The IBU Executive board’s meeting took place recently. And there were important decisions for Russia – Khanty-Mansiysk will host at least two world cups in the next Olympic cycle, and Tyumen will get a summer world championship in 2014.

— We prepared for this meeting – gave to the members of the EB certificate composed together with the Sports Ministry regarding the amount of investments that were made into biathlon in past years. On the eve of the Olympics in Sochi these sums are huge! We informed the EB that in the next Olympic season and after 2018 Russia will allpy to host international tournaments of different levels. Many specialists say that our stadiums are the best. Khanty, Sochi, Tyumen. And we have a unique federal centre in Tchaikovsky. According to the IBU specialists, there is a best logistics for biathlon. There are enough biathlon centers in Russia to pay attention to staff’s preparation for these complexes. The IBU-members understand that our building tempo is maximal.

As a result we got a summer world championship in 2014 for Tyumen. Our task is to gather best biathletes there. The IBU will help us with this. The IBU also supported us in the idea to get top-10 of the men’s and women’s cup competing in the summer WCH. The task is serious and the gouvernment of Tyumen is ready to host such tournament. In 2014 we will have two major biathlon events in Russia – Olympics in Sochi and Summer WCH in Tyumen. We also got the preliminary schedule of the world cups in 2015 and 2016, there are two cups in Khanty-Mansiysk. The world cup in Russia is also reserved after 2016, but we will consider new candidates – Sochi and Tyumen.

— There are rumors that the IBU plans to organize the 10th world cup after Sochi.

— We have not discussed this topic seriously with the IBU. However this perspective will arise and we will be ready to get a license for another world cup in Russia!

RBU Media-office