Sophia Velikaya: “I become stronger every day”

At the Russian fencing Championships in Smolensk Sophia Velikaya returned to high-performance sport after the birth of her second child. Rio Olympic champion in the team event and the 2012 and 2016 Games silver medalist in the individual event, took part in the sabre competition and reached the quarterfinals, where she lost to Julia Gavrilova in a bitter struggle (13:15).

– My mind understands, that I can do better, but the body does not obey me yet. It takes time. It is my second month of training. I prepared on my own, with the national junior team, and in my native club Chertanovo.

Of course, everybody dreams of a magic start. However, I am satisfied with today’s fencing. Tomorrow I will participate in the team competition, and one month later in the  Moscow Sabre tournament. I hope to approach it in a better shape, because I feel that every day I become stronger and tactical skills return.

– When was it more difficult to return, in 2014 after the birth of your son or now?

– After the Olympics I neede a break anyway. It was necessary for more motivation and more fruitful work before the next Olympic Games. You have to enjoy what you’re doing. So I took a break just in time.

Physically both times it was equally difficult to return, psychologically now it is easier because I know in general the order of actions I need to take, understand that there can be difficulties and defeats. At this point I think that performed fairly good.

– Well, you defeated two rivals in the playoffs, including experienced Svetlana Kormilitsyna, two-time world and European champion in team competitions.

– Most importantly is that I made it through the poule. Now I am not among the top 16 strongest in the world, so at international competitions I will have to go through this preliminary round, where bouts last until five hits. In the bouts, which last until 15 hits, you can set the tactics and even have time to change it, while in the poule you have no cushion time. You can accidentally get hit, then miss, and that is all (by the way, in her group Velikaya won five times and lost with the score 4:5 to Gavrilova).

– Four years ago, the results were the same?

– Absolutely. But I was more upset then.

– What did Ilgar Mammadov, head coach of the national fencing team, tell you when you left the fencing piste today?

– That he faced the same difficulties when he returned after a long vacation.

– In the end, you were defeated by the Rio Olympic champion.

– Today there were mothers. Yulia Gavrilova, just like me, returned after the birth of her child, but a little earlier.

– I saw you with your daughter in the hall.

– Zoya is only six months old. I can’t leave her at home.

– And who is in your support group?

– My two brothers. I must have assistants and guards.

– Do you really need guards? Especially if you’re armed.

– Well, I  can not find! Some fan must have taken it after the battle.

– Do you intend to perform at the European and world Championships in summer?

– I will do everything I can to qualify for the national team. I strive to participate in all major competitions. If I miss the European and World Championships, I will try very hard to go the Olympic Games again. If I manage I  would be happy.