Ilgar Mammadov: “We took half of the gold medals, and we could have done even better”

Russia won the medal standings at the European Fencing Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia, by a huge margin. Our team has six gold, two silver and three bronze medals. We showed almost the same result (6+1+3) at the 2016 Continental Championship  in Torun, before the Olympic Games  in Rio de Janeiro.

Ilgar Mammadov, head coach, summed up the results of the competition.

– Someone did better, someone did worse, but it is important that in general the team won, said Mammadov. – We took half of the gold medals. However, the performance will be estimated by the Bureau of the Russian fencing Federation Executive Committee on June 28.

And to think that we could have taken more first places! In the Sabre Fencing final Kamil Ibragimov chose a bit of a wrong tactics in the end of the bout. He was leading 12:9, and he lost. Violetta Kolobova won 7:1 in the Foil Fencing semifinals and was defeated by Katrina Lechis 13:14, who later became European champion.

Yesterday the women’s Foil Fencing team also missed an advantage in the final against the Italians and also lost by one touch.

— You can’t expect the opponent to miss. You need to create and prepare powerful attacks. If the attack was not successful, you have to defend. If only attack, and do not control the situation, the experienced fencer will catch the trick. And this is what happened in the last bout (with Anastasia Ivanova). Aliche Volpi found a comfortable distance and began to make accurate touches. At the same time I warned them: “You always take advantage of Inna (Deriglazova)”. And this time something went wrong, and the whole team blew it.

— And what was the matter with Deriglazova? She was tired psychologically?

– It is more likely that she was tired physically. The competition was held in truly inhumane conditions. It was stuffy in the gyms. In the first days it was more or less tolerable, and then the temperature has increased. I put on the Olympic jersey jacket for five minutes; it was necessary to wear it at award ceremony, and I almost flaked out. I was all wet. And the athletes were fencing in bibs and masks from morning till night. It is clear that they all were in the same conditions, but we won more often than others. After the award ceremony and the doping procedure we left the stuffy camera at 10 PM. So I can’t blame anyone. Good job!

– Today our foil fencers lost to the Ukrainian team by one touch. What did they lack?

– And there they try to hang everything on Violetta Kolobova; she also can’t drag the whole team all alone. Andryushina drowns. Gudkova is of no use after her win in the last year’s World Championship in Leipzig. Not a single decent performance in the season. Apparently, the motivation is gone. It sometimes happens, that the victorious season is followed by a failing one. However, the World Championship, to take place in a month in China, still lies ahead. OK, she was  defeated by Murtazaeva in the individual tournament, although, in her place, I would have been ashamed to lose to a 16-year-old girl. But even after that she is of no use for the team. We need to think about how to prepare for the competition.

Will there be any changes in the team composition before the World Championship?

– We will discuss this issue at the Bureau of the Executive Committee. Maybe one new person will come, not more.

Was the victorious return of the Sophia Velikaya, who won two gold medals in Novi Sad, surprising?

– Sophia’s a real leader. Both  as an athlete who shows good results, and as a person who unites the team. If only we had more such people, we would  have escaped all problems. After the birth of the second child, she planned to return in this season and to work with maximum performance starting from the next season, but she broke in so impetuously, that we were happy to open the doors to her. And we did not regret.

Recall that gold medals in Novi Sad were won by: Sophia Velikaya (sword), Inna Deriglazova and Alexey Cheremisinov (foil), women’s sabre team (Sophia Velikaya, Yana Yegoryan, Svetlana Sheveleva, Sophia Pozdnyakova), men’s foil team (Alexey Cheremisinov, Timur Safin, Timur Arslanov, Dmitry Zherebchenko) and men’s epee team (Sergey Khodos, Pavel Sukhov, Sergey Bida, Nikita Glazkov).