Ilgar Mamedov: “By Tokyo 2020 the composition of our team will change by 75 percent”

Head coach of the Russian Fencing team in his interview to the ROC Information Service spoke about his election to the post of Vice-President of the Russian Fencing Federation, about the changes in the coaching staff of the Foil team, about the reasons of poor results in men’s and women’s Epee Fencing and about rejuvenation of the national team.

– Last week, January 26, at the report-election conference of the Russian Fencing Federation you were elected  to the   Bureau of the Russian Fencing Federation Executive Committee as one of its three Vice-Presidents. What issues will fall under your responsibility?

– We have a board of coaches, headed by Mark Rakita, but according to the Statute of the Russian Fencing Federation, it has only   advisory functions. My election to the Bureau of the Executive Committee will allow me to   participate in all  meetings of the federation governing body and will make it easier to solve problems related  to the preparation and performance of the national team.

– Will additional workload affect your main job?

– The Bureau of the Executive Committee will meet three times a month. Thus I don’t see any problem here. Of course, if I had as much responsibilities as Stanislav Poznyakov, former First Vice-President of the Russian Fencing Federation, had, I would be forced to finish my coaching career. But since Eduard Volfson, Secretary General of the Federation, will be responsible for interaction with regions, I will be able to combine my coaching activity and my work as official.

– When will the next meeting of the  Bureau of the Executive Committee of the Russian Fencing Federation?

– In the beginning of March. Among other questions we will discuss athletes’ transfer from one region to another, we will confirm team composition to perform at the European Championship among juniors and cadets.

– Stefano Cerioni left the coaching staff of the Russian team. And that is in spite of the  fact that at the Rio Games our team won two gold and one bronze medals.

–  Cerioni’s four-year contract has come to an end. We thanked Stefano for the work he has done and for high results. Together with his assistants he introduced  advanced Italian training methods. It was a very fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation, however it should be noted, that in Foil Fencing we have our own strong coaches now. Therefore it was decided not to prolong the  contract with Cerioni, but to entrust our men’s and women’s teams to Russian specialist. We will give you his name in the next few days.

– Against the brilliant performance of our foil fencers and sabre fencers in Rio, our epee team was left in the shadow. Our epee fencers won bronze in the women’s team competition. Why do we have such poor results in this event?

– Unfortunately, in epee we have no such leading coaches, as Christian Bauer or Stefano Cerioni. In such situation athletes themselves should demonstrate leadership, but we have problems with that as well. I should confess, we are very concerned about the current situation in men’s and women’s epee. Will there be any transfers in the coaching staff? Not until the World Championships, I guess. And after that we will have to think hard. We don’t want short-term results, we need a system of training. If the system is correct, the results will come sooner or later.

– The new Olympic cycle always means new names. How much will the composition of the Russian Fencing team change by the time they go to Tokyo?

– Rejuvenation is inevitable. Honestly, those aged 30 years and older, do not have much chances to perform in Tokyo. In our sport athletes above 30 years of age  usually loose speed and endurance, they need more time to recover after physical activities. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as for example, Valentina Vezzali of Italy, who won her 6th Olympic gold medal when she was 38. In my estimation, the composition of the Russian team at the 2020 Games will differ from the Brazilian variant by  75 percent. We have no problems with talent pool. Lets take Sabre for example. At the recent World Cup stage in New York our Sabre fencers took third place, although, of the Olympic ‘gold’ four only Yana Yegoryan performed there. Other athletes  (Anastasia Bazhenova, Valeria Bolshakova and Sofia Pozdnyakova) have just make their debut in the national team. This is an example of the team that is assembled with an eye to the next Olympics.