Sergei Sitnikov: “Adam Kurak is a potential Olympic champion”

The conversation with Sergei Sitnikov, director of the city sports school for Greco-Roman wrestling, judge of the international category, mentor of the candidate for the Russian Olympic team Adam Kurak, was held at the editorial office of the newspaper.

Although the guest could stay at any other suitable place in Krasnoyarsk. He turned out to be a rather pleasant interlocutor, willingly, in his usual calm quiet voice, discussing all the topics that were raised.

Street lessons

– Sergey Vasilyevich, how did you get into the fight?
– The older brother played hockey. We had a mechanical plant in Yeniseisk, and it had a team. When I was four years old, he bought me a hockey stick and skates for my first salary. I remember even going to the regional ice hockey championship in Kansk. We built the boxes ourselves, filled them in … But then I realized that results in this game in Yeniseisk could not be achieved. Because everything was built only on our enthusiasm. And I decided to take up a more promising sport. I signed up for the wrestling section late, in the 7th grade, but came physically well prepared. And it was amazing for me when I had to fight with guys of my weight and age. I didn’t feel them. On the street I grew up with guys who were four to five years older than me. I’m used to it.

Boys from an orphanage studied at our school. And often I had to stand up for myself. They were given food stamps, which they gave to us, and money was taken from us. A little later, the guys from the orphanage began to engage in wrestling, and it united everyone. We began to communicate in a different way. Friendship is one of the integral components of the struggle. After all, many are surprised when, after a stubborn, tough fight, where they beat in blood, the guys embrace, communicate warmly with each other.

My first coach was Gennady Petrovich Fedotov, who founded wrestling in the city. Unfortunately, he passed away early, in 1989 at the age of 43. He was an intelligent, well-mannered, competent person. In Krasnoyarsk, Tkachev and I work among his students. In Yeniseisk – Andrey Korotkikh, Vadim Efimov, who for the last three years trained with me, but started with Gennady Petrovich. He created the school.

– Did you have any results?
– Well, he won the regional championship … That is, there were such achievements. In our time, there are guys who are members of the Russian national team, candidates for the Olympic team, like my pupil Adam Kurak. He has been studying with me since the third grade. Now Adam is at the training camp in Adler, preparing for the European Championship. Only recently came from Slovenia, where he won a tournament from the Grand Prix series. Then, of course, the victory on the edge was an event (laughs). Now I don’t really tune the guys for these competitions – an intermediate start.

– Why did you decide to move to Krasnoyarsk?
– I ended up here in 1999. The situation developed in such a way that the guys whom he raised came to Krasnoyarsk and got lost. It is necessary that the first coach was there. There are always many temptations in a big city. And it was a pity that the good, talented boys as a result of this could not realize themselves.

In the last year before my departure from Yeniseisk, they invited me to work as the chairman of the city’s sports committee. And I felt that if I stay there a little longer, I would be sucked in and I would stay. And I wanted to continue to grow with the guys. And my wife is from Krasnoyarsk.

I brought the guys from Yeniseisk with me to the regional center. They just finished nine classes. I arranged them at the Olympic Reserve School. There they had food, accommodation, a tough regime … All the same, the conditions in our school are good. I was already determined to raise serious athletes. From childhood he prepared children for adult wrestling. But I didn’t chase after the momentary result, I didn’t try to squeeze everything out of them then. The main thing is that they are healthy people, have an education.

– Anyone who came with you from Yeniseisk is fighting at a good level now?
– Adam Kurak. Great hopes were pinned on Dmitry Oralov, who fulfilled the standard of an international master of sports. At 23, he won the national championship, tournaments from the Grand Prix series … He underwent surgery on the lateral ligaments of the knee. Apparently, he did not have time to recover normally, began to receive loads early, went to a training camp in the highlands, and a relapse occurred. I stopped training.

I also had other guys who won and were in the top three at the Russian championship among youths and youth. But not everyone becomes professional athletes. For different reasons. Someone, for example, has love. The girl lived in another city, he followed her. Everything. Although he was a Russian medalist, he was part of the national team and would go very far. At this age, to keep a guy, you have to give him a lot. And maybe help from a financial point of view. The visiting guys are not all from prosperous families. They hang out with their wealthy peers who drive cool cars. And sometimes, prioritizing, they do not think about the future, but choose what is needed at the moment.

Battle for the Olympics

– The 2012 Olympic Games will take place in London. Are you and your ward Adam Kurak determined to get there?
– Yes. And he, in fact, adds. Three tournaments were to be held in the fall, and Adam was not taken to any of them. I called and asked the head coach of the national team Gogi Koguashvili why Kurak was not coming. He replied that the competition is great.

– The newly-made world champion Georgian Ambako Vachadze is in the weight category of Adam.
– This is precisely where certain problems lie. Koguashvili helps him a lot. You just have to be above him. In general, weighing up to 66 kilograms is difficult, the competition is good in Russia. Adam became the champion of the country, then the medalist. And then in the final with the Olympic champion Albiev, to be honest, he was removed. And this is not only my opinion. Many experts think so. But, apparently, the status of the Olympic champion, and even acting in Moscow, played a role. Adam rolled on the point, and all the judges were unanimous in this. Then the opposing team filed a protest, the jury watched the moment on the monitor for a long time, and Albiev was given two points. Adam is a warning. It’s good that now he won the competition in Slovenia. He was a silver medalist in a very strong tournament in Poland, which takes place a month before the World Cup, and therefore everyone comes to it. I went to judge. And Gogi Murmanovich singled out Adam from the whole team, saying that he was showing a good fight. Prior to that, he became the third twice in the tournaments from the Grand Prix Series in Finland and in Tyumen in Ivan Poddubny. Now Adam will have two training camps, and will determine who will go to the European Championship.

– How will this happen?
– Two tournaments will be held: one in Hungary, the other – in Iran. And they will see how they qualify there.

– Vachadze and Kurak will go to different competitions?
– Most likely. They try not to bring them together (laughs).

– Have they met before?
– A long time ago, four years ago. Vachadze won, but not much. In the parterre, I got a point. He was already powerful then, and Adam did not act very well in the pit. Vachadze according to the documents of 1983, but I think he will be older. Now at the World Cup he lost two out of three fights. I saw that the struggle is about nothing. The other day I watched again Adam’s decisive fight at the Ivan Poddubny tournament. And there commented the medalist of the European Championship, the winner of the World Cup, who fought in the category up to 66 kilograms, Sergei Kovalenko. Before the Olympics in Beijing, the question of who would go to it was decided: Sergey or Vachadze. Initially, Kovalenko was released from participation in the Russian championship, as he was told that he had reserved a place in the national team for himself. But then some incomprehensible actions began, and in the end everything was decided in a control meeting, where Sergei was stronger than Vachadze. But at the Olympics, he did not perform well. They just twitched the person psychologically. And so Kovalenko said a lot of flattering words about Adam. They also met on the carpet.

– What are his strengths?
– Adam is very good in standing. The parterre will improve a little now. He is a functionally strong, non-standard fighter. Dmitry Georgievich Mindiashvili watched all of Adam’s meetings at the Russian championship, where he met Albiev in the final, and said: “I like this kind of fight.” He works as the first number, active, mobile. Add insolence and harshness – and this is a potential Olympic champion.

Non-profit business

– International category – the highest judicial status?
– Yes, but international relations have three categories. The third, second and highest is the first. It allows you to referee at the World and European Championships, as well as the Olympic Games. In order to get the first category, you need to travel abroad often and have enough funds. I have the second, and I have promoted only once in a tournament in Iran. There was a seminar, and then there is refereeing, they watch how you work. We pay $ 150 per stamp every year. That is, to be able to judge. In Yugoslavia, at the World Championships, I tried to pass for the first category. But there were many people. Yet they cannot receive. Moreover, the international category does not have a division into freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. There is a FILA referee. We judge competitions in both styles.

– Are you going to advance to the first?
– Yes, we have to try this year. Because the first category can only be obtained up to 50 years old. Now I am 47, and I have to catch up to the Olympics. Immediately before the main games of the fourth year it will be difficult – there is a reduction, they are trying to remove the maximum number of people during the selection. Only 60 judges from all over the world work at the Olympic Games. And after it comes a lull. Then age – and past the cash register.

– Is this a profitable business?
– Absolutely not. I began to judge because when there is an authoritative referee, the guys are not touched. They understand that then I can somehow influence any meeting. The question here is not to help, but to prevent others from interfering.

– Did scandals happen during your direct refereeing?
– In Krasnodar at the national championship a local athlete from Adygea fought with a resident of Rostov. The owner acted very dirty, used holds, interfered with the techniques. He already had two warnings, as he broke the rules twice. And if you get the third – the victory is awarded to the opponent. And in the second period, the Rostovite holds a reception, and the Adygean takes him below the belt and holds him. And everything was obvious. I gave him a third warning, and I was supported by both the side judge and the head of the mat. Local people approached the jury to watch the episode on the monitor. In the end, everyone came to the conclusion that the decision was correct: two points to the Rostovite and a warning to the Adyghe. I go out and show. And then … the bottles flew, the chair launched by the second. The next day, the police appeared, who did not allow them to enter the hall with closed bottles. Such a stir! Even before the end of the competition, a Moscow colleague, who was a side judge during this meeting, asked me: “How are we going to leave?” (laughs). But soon the emotions subsided. Everyone understood that I was right.

– Often then you doubt the decision made on the carpet?
– It happens. Sometimes doubts appear, I analyze them more carefully later. I always rate myself after the competition. It is impossible without this. It can’t be that you went out, whistled at random. You decide the fate of a person! Perhaps all his life he was being prepared for these selections for the Olympics, and then with one wrong whistle to cross out, put an end to dreams. And there were many decisive, fateful battles. The responsibility is quite serious.

Four with a minus

– What have you achieved as a school principal?
– I have been working in this position since October 2007. During this time, we were able to strengthen the material and technical base. We purchased wrestling mats, simulators of various levels for general physical training, opened halls in secondary schools. Now the guys have the opportunity to receive equipment for free, that is, wrestlers and tights. Leading athletes are given tracksuits. Since June last year, the SDYUSHOR has been provided with office space, five rooms with European-quality repair. Before that, everyone huddled in one room.

We were given the Rodina cinema. We have documents for the building (registered in the regional chamber), today I took the documents for the land. We have carried out an experimental survey of the building for its serviceability. It only requires certain reinforcement of the supporting structures. And it is necessary to make major repairs. A competition for design and estimate documentation was held, and the company that would deal with this was determined. We have already prepared a draft version. I think that by the end of 2011 the design and estimate documentation will be prepared. And then, within two years, the building will be reconstructed.

– What will be there?
– Two wrestling halls. One of them is on two carpets, with stands. We will be able to conduct high-quality competitions at the level of the regional championship or the Siberian Federal District. There will also be a training room. With the help of paid services, it will be possible to earn money and re-invest them in the development of the struggle. After all, there will also be a fitness room, an athletic gymnastics room, a cafe, a sauna, maybe a solarium and parking.

I think this will be enough. We are trying to expand by regions. We have two sections in schools in Cheryomushki, in Zelenaya Roscha a complex for two carpets plus school 56, in the Oktyabrsky district the 99th school. The city center is the Ivan Yarygin Sports Palace. We are currently negotiating with the railway technical school. A new complex will open in Solnechny, and we talked with the general director of the Krasnoyarsk sports school for basketball. This is a huge hall where you can hold competitions of any level and in any kind of sports. It is fully equipped with sports equipment.

You can, of course, build a lot of rooms, but you can’t go far without trainers. It is difficult to attract people after university, who, as a rule, study with three groups of initial training, and their salary is about five thousand. Plus a small bonus for being a young specialist. Therefore, we are trying in every possible way to interest them. Somewhere we trust young coaches to work with older children, for which they receive a different salary.

We have a continuity of generations. An experienced coach, attracting his pupils, gives them some of the guys, and they already have some kind of base for salaries. Of course, a mentor who is inferior to the young loses. But there is no other way.

– On the question of coaches. My friend is studying with Vasily Pushnov, whose pupils, by the way, won two gold and two bronze medals at the last championship of the Siberian Federal District. After the liquidation of the CSK VVS branch, he was left without work, but continues to train with fighters for free. How do you feel about this situation?
– Vasily Pushnov started working at school, probably even earlier than me. By the way, he has only one first place – Armen Grigoryan. Hrachik Sargsyan became the third. Well, that’s all. Gulmamedov is a student of Pokoyakov, and in the category up to 74 kilograms – my boy. Vasily Vasilyevich left for CSK VVS in September. I heard that the salary was decent. Maybe not such strict control, because the head office was located in Samara. I don’t know the exact reason. After he wrote a letter of resignation, I talked to him, tried to persuade him to stay. He offered to think for two weeks. In the end, he left. Although he worked for many years at the school, which did a lot for him. In principle, we never conflicted with him, we had normal relations. Now they are waiting for a decision. Perhaps the department of CSK VVS will be given to the Ministry of Sports. So far, the coaches are in the center of the activity. They are in a somewhat suspended state.

– Are you satisfied with the work done?
– I think that more could be done. But for me this job became new, as for a leader. It was necessary to delve into everything, learn. Even how to work with finances, plan them correctly. Therefore, I am not completely satisfied with my work. We must go ahead.

– You are used to giving yourself a mark after the competition, as a judge. How would you rate your activities related to the school leadership then?
– (After a pause). I think four with a minus (smiles).

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