For many athletes it is a massive achievement just to qualify for the Olympics. One such athlete is gymnast Felix Aronovich. He traveled a long journey to be able to call himself an Olympian.
He missed Beijing and felt that he had lost the opportunity but with one fantastic showing in the Gymnastics Test Event, Felix was awarded a spot in London; but that spot was contingent on him doing well at the European Gymnastics Championships in France. He did it; he had the 11th spot and was is on his way to London 2012!
Born in Odessa, Ukraine Felix moved to Israel at the age of two. He currently studies at Penn State. Regardless of what happens in London, Aronovich is already a champion and it was a pleasure and an honor to interview him.
When did you start in Gymnastics? When I was 5 years old my grandfather took me to a gym that was close to our house in Kiryat Bialik.
How did your commitment to sports change your childhood? It definitely influenced my childhood in many aspects. First, it took a lot of my free time, time that I would have spent hanging out with friends. I matured at faster than other kids my age. I travelled abroad for training and competitions; I had to learn to manage my time wisely between school, sports, and friends.
What is your first memory of the Olympics? Watching Olympics 2000 Opening Ceremony at my parent’s home.
When did you know you wanted to be in the Olympics? I guess I always “wanted” it. Every gymnast aspires to reach the level to compete in the Olympics, but the age of 16, I thought my moment had passed due to a few bad years. I didn’t think I could make it. Then in December of 2011, when I heard I could compete in the Test Event in London, The competitor in me returned and I wanted to qualify,
Who are your role models? I don’t have one role model per say. There is no one that I look at and say I want to be like him. On the other hand, there are many people that have great qualities and that I try to emulate – family members, athletes, musician, actors and so on.
How hard is it to combine high-level sport and your studies? It’s definitely not an easy task, but at Penn State, we have a great system that allows you to synchronize school and gymnastics. That why we are called “student-athletes.” We are students first, and athletes second.
Do you have any superstitions? I wouldn’t call them superstitions but there are things that I always do prior to a meet. An hour before we leave to a meet I always shower and drink coffee with some chocolate. It raises my blood pressure. It’s as if I’m turning the engine on inside my body.
What was your biggest challenge prior to getting to the Olympics? Being good enough to receive a college scholarship.
Is there anything about sport in Israel that you wish you could change?
I would increase support for Olympic sports not only soccer and basketball. I would open programs that help develop and support young athletes and provide additional financial assistance to national team members, even if they don’t have top achievements.
Besides gymnastics, what sports at the Olympics do you like to watch? Swimming and track and field, I admire their athleticism. Almost as much as gymnasts
Sport has awarded you opportunities and experiences that otherwise you would never had had, what would you say to Israeli children about being an athlete and what opportunities it could bring them. Any advice? Stick to what you do well and love, give it everything you’ve got,100% To have the strength to sacrifice things that you love, for the love of sport and training. Most importantly, never give up, keep on trying
How do you think being an Olympian will change your life?
Positive, a positive human being. It will prove that if you work hard, good things can happen. I also hope that in the future it will open the doors of employment for me.
What do you want to do post-gymnastics?
Travel, get my Masters Degree, and find a job, hopefully in the US.
Felix we wish you well. We will be cheering for you as you go for the gold!