Following the leaders: Q and A with World Mixed Pairs champ Revaz Gurgenidze (RUS)17/07/2014
Since his debut in Age Group competition at the 2001 World Acrobatic Championships, the ponytailed, passionate Revaz Gurgenidze (RUS) has commanded attention on the floor as one half of Russia's always dynamic, dramatic Mixed Pairs couples.
As an athlete and coach, Revaz Gurgenidze (RUS), one half of Russia's gold medal-winning Mixed Pair (with Marina Chernova), has been a fixture on the international scene in Acrobatic Gymnastics for more than a decade. Here, their Balance routine in Levallois.
In 2014, eight years after winning his first gold at the World Acro Championships, 28-year-old Gurgenidze won a second world Mixed Pairs title with partner Marina Chernova this past weekend in Levallois (FRA).
For more than a decade, Gurgenidze has been part of the most successful Mixed Pairs couples on the World scene: Before the 2014 World title, he and Chernova took silver at last summer's World Games in Cali (COL), while Gurgenidze and former partner Tatiana Okulova won silvers in Mixed Pairs at the 2012 and 2010 World Championships. With his first partner Anna Katchalova, with whom he shared the World title in 2006, Gurgenidze won silver at the 2004 Worlds as well.
A third generation Acro gymnast and coach (his grandfather helped introduce the sport in Georgia and his father coached World champions in Georgia during the 1980s), Gurgenidze started gymnastics in 1997 and was inspired to take up Acro after being awed by British Mixed Pairs Neil Griffiths and Rebecca Law, whom he watched capture the 1998 World title in Minsk (BLR).
"Before, I thought that I was going to be a tumbler or something like that," he said. "But when I saw that, I thought, 'Wow, I want to be like him.'"
Gurgenidze is married to fashion designer Alina Yushko, who won a gold medal with the Belarussian Trio at the 2008 World Championships, and proudly sports her designs in competiition. He has also embarked on a coaching career from his home gym just outside Moscow, placing several gymnasts on the Russian national team, including one of the bases of the bronze-medal winning Men's Group in Levallois. "So I'm on the same team as one of my gymnasts!" he said, smiling broadly. "We live in the gym, we can say it like that."
In this edited interview, Gurgenidze discusses his road to the Levallois Worlds and where he plans to go next, as well as discusses the strengths of Russia's Acro team, which captured six medals, three of them gold, at the World Championships.
Q: We've been watching you for years at the World level. How many World Championships have you competed in now?
Gurgenidze and Marina Chernova performing their dramatic Combined exercise in Levallois.
Gurgenidze: "You know, I've never counted! But I started in 2001 at the first World Age Group Competitions in Poland. We performed in the 16-year-old age group, and we were allowed to do elements without limiting the difficulty. It was a really good start. I have several medals from different World Championships, but still I've never counted how many [Worlds I've competed in!]"
Q: Many top Acro gymnasts decide to sign with Cirque du Soleil or other performance troupes after competing for a while at the World level. You were in Cirque's "Varekai" in 2008 and 2009 and then returned to competition in 2010. What brought you back?
Q: Was it a difficult decision to return?
Gurgenidze: "Varekai is my favorite programme. It shines. It's a really nice tale. All kinds of people like this show, both kids and the older spectators as well. I think it's really nice to be in sport. I'm one of several athletes who have come back after a Cirque du Soleil career. I think now my competition programme is the best ever. If you're motivated to bring something different than Acrobatics, it's good. It's nice to push forward the next generation of gymnasts. So for myself, the main issue is not getting medals, but to bring something different to gymnastics and to try to keep on top."
Gurgenidze: "Actually, it wasn't so difficult. Because to work in Cirque du Soleil, it's not easy. For myself, it's important to give all your passion to the spectators, and it's difficult to always be on the top level."
Q: What is your relationship like with your partner Marina Chernova?
Gurgenidze: "The main choice was to take a new top to perform at the 2013 World Games in Colombia, but unfortunately we didn't have enough time to prepare well for that competition. It was like two or three months, but we had the highest difficulty of all pairs, so I said, 'Oh, not too bad. We didn't win, but it was a good start.' At the European Championships, it was already a much, much better performance. I think we're in the best shape of our lives. But I never know how it's going to be. Only God knows."
Q: You're coached by your father. Does that ever lead to conflicts?
Gurgenidze: "No. My father is very good at familial relations. At home, we never talk about Acrobatics. Everything stays in the gym. We are a normal family, with problems of course, but mostly happy. My brother and I have been working as coaches for 10 years already too...we live in the gym, we can say it like that."
Q: You've had a great success in Levallois. Are you already thinking about the next World Championships in 2016?
|Gurgenidze and Chernova performing their Balance routine in Levallois.|
Gurgenidze: "I don't know. Who knows? You never can say when you're going to finish, when you'll get tired. It's not possible to think like that. When you think like that, you've already stopped progressing."
Q: What's the situation like for Acro training in Russia?
Gurgenidze: "There have been some really good changes. We have a salary that's not bad for Russia. I don't know how it is for other countries. And also we can do other things -- for example, the top of our Men's Senior Pair (Konstantin Pilipchuk), he is a photographer, so he does that. We're a really senior team. Me and our Men's Pair, we started in the 1990s. All of us, we are all married or have children. The base from the Men's Pair (Alexei Dudchenko), he has two kids, so when you have to go to the World Championships or to a training camp for three or four weeks and you don't see your family, it's really hard."
Q: Are there any changes you'd like to see made in the current rules for Acro?
Gurgenidze: "I'm really happy that next year we will have a change in the competition rules. It's not good what is happening now because it's a difficulty rush. And all of the pairs start to do the same thing. In Russia we have an amazing rule that in the final you can do only eight elements, but with open difficulty. The rules are the same, but the number of elements is limited. This motivates the gymnasts to show their best."
|10/07/2014 12/07/2014||24th Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships 2014||LEVALLOIS (FRA)||ACRO|