Voronezh athlete Angelina Melnikova who had won three medals at the first ever united European championship of summer Olympic sports met her fans on Friday, August 10. The RIA “Voronezh” correspondent picked the most interesting and unusual questions the Voronezh residents asked the athlete.

– You were the captain of the national team for the first time at the last European championship. Was it scary to take on such a responsibility?

– I was mostly scared that some of our girls would be very worried, and I wouldn’t be able to find the right words for them to set their attitude right, to calm them down. It is really difficult because you have to know each athlete well to pick the right words. The rest wasn’t hard.

– Do you have a good luck charm that helps you during tournaments?

– Last year was very unsuccessful for me. I went out onto the platform and fell. I felt uncomfortable, there was such negativity coming from the fans and some coaches that it was psychologically hard. But my parents, my coaches and friends helped me, sent me words of support. It was a period of time I simply had to go through. And it was namely in 2017 that a Swiss coach gave me a little teddy-bear and told to take it everywhere I went – and I would be fine. Since then I’ve always taken the teddy-bear to all the tournaments and trainings. And in 2018 the black streak in sports was finally replaced by a white one.

– Are you planning to switch to coaching in the future?

– I’ve recently entered the Smolensk Institute; girls from the National Team really get helped there because learning and training at the same time is very difficult - especially when there are such important tournaments ahead as the World Championship. Yes, I will have a degree in physical culture, but I’m not planning to become a trainer. I want to be a designer.

– Tell the beginner athletes: what’s the most important thing at championships?

– To me the most important thing is concentration. You need to not pay attention to your opponents, to the audience – you must simply do your combination the way you were taught and see that everything goes according to the plan.

– What was your first thought when you realized that the National Team had won gold medals at the European Championship?

– I felt so much joy, I wanted to run to my team, thank the coaches. Under the influence of emotions, I and the girls couldn’t go to sleep, because of which it was hard in the morning given that we were to have individual finals that day. But the thought of the victory we had the day before helped us. Medals always give you confidence.

– How often do you train? Do you enjoy doing it or is it already just work you have to do no matter if you like it or not?

– I train six times a week, two practices a day, each 3.5 hours long. I’ve always liked to train. Practices weren’t hard for me, I’ve always loved gymnastics and I still do. Of course, there had been moments when I didn’t want to go to practice. The important thing here is to love what you do.

– Did you have a nickname when you were a child?

– My grandmother used to call me a squirrel – I guess because I’m blond.

– Are you planning to move to Moscow from Voronezh?

– Voronezh is my home city, my parents and friends are here. But in Moscow there are more opportunities for growth. And I’ve been spreading my life between these two cities for five years. So yes, I am planning to move to Moscow.

– Can you have friends in sports or is everyone a rival there?

– When we go out onto the platform - of course. we are all rivals, but in our everyday life we communicate, we don’t have any conflicts and we never did.

– You are popular in social networks. You have 50 thousand followers on Instagram alone, and, obviously, not everyone writes you only the good things. How do you react to criticism?

– Thanks to the black streak in 2017, when there was continuous negativity in sports and a lot of criticism in social networks, I’ve learned to pay no heed to it. Of course, I’m interested in what people write about me, I read commentaries, but now I look at it and evaluate whether the criticism is relevant or someone just wanted to simply write something bad and unreasoned towards me.

– You have many fan-clubs in social networks. Do you communicate with their administrators?

– No. I don’t know any of them. My fan-clubs are being created on their own and are separate from me.

– You’ve recently turned 18. Do you feel like an adult?

– On my birthday my coaches started joking that I had finally grown up - and now my gymnastics have grown, that now I do everything better than I used to. But it was just a joke. In gymnastics, you grow up much quicker. You begin to feel like an adult long before you’re 18. So after I turned 18, nothing inside me had changed. I only became an adult in terms of my documents. I can drive a car now. Today is my second day behind the wheel. I’ve already driven around half of Voronezh. I feel very comfortable when driving, although sometimes I get confused by the traffic.

– How did your teachers react when you had skipped lessons because of sports?

– I studied at the Voronezh School №37. It cooperates with our sports school. All my teachers knew that I was skipping a lot of lessons due to gymnastics. I practically stopped studying at school in the sixth grade. I’ve studied for a month and a half per year at the most. I studied the school programme by myself, without private tutors. And I passed the USE with good grades. I started preparing for the exams three weeks before the USE, I studied day and night. And during this time I remembered everything I needed to.

– If it wasn’t for artistic gymnastics, what type of sport would you choose for yourself?

– Artistic gymnastics. I like its aesthetics, everyone in it is beautiful and thin.

– What is an ideal recreation for you?

– Not at sea, not in the mountains, but at home with my parents. When you come back from a training camp, you want to be a regular person without any worries for a while.

– What would you do if you were the president?

– I’m an athlete, so obviously I would provide all sports schools with nice equipment. The sports equipment in our country is terrible. You go to some city, you look around and think: how do kids manage to train here, how have they not killed themselves with this equipment yet? It is so old that I don’t understand how it still stands. In foreign countries, there are many commercial gyms in the cities. So athletes there train close to their homes, they don’t have as many training camps as Russian athletes – for three weeks per month. Foreign athletes spend a week at a training camp prior to the tournament and that’s it.

RIA “Voronezh” note for information

Angelina Melnikova is a trainee of the Voronezh Specialized Children and Youth Sports School of the Olympic Reserve named after Shtukman. She is the absolute champion of Russia and the champion of Europe. In August of 2016, Melnikova won the silver medal in team all-round events at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as part of the Russian National Team.

In 2017, Angelina Melnikova took the 16th place in the personal all-around final of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. The athlete showed a score of 51.341 points. Melnikova suggested that the quality of her performance could be affected by the trauma - two weeks ago, she twisted her ankle. After the unsuccessful performance, Melnikova apologized to her fans on her personal page in Instagram.

In late December-2017, Angelina Melnikova won two silver medals at international competitions in Moscow. Earlier, the Voronezh gymnast won a gold medal in the all-around during international competitions in the capital. Angelina Melnikova also won the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Series in March 2018. The athlete won “gold” in the individual all-around at the Russian Championship.

At the united European Championship in summer Olympic sports that took place from August 2 to 12 simultaneously in Germany and Great Britain, Angelina Melnikova took the gold medal in the team tournament, a silver medal in vault and a bronze in floor exercise.

The Voronezh athlete entered the top-5 of the most beautiful and elegant athletes in the world according to the “R-sport” sports news agency.