Soon to be-2 time Olympian Alex Shatilov comes from good stock! His mother Alla is a former Uzbekistan champion gymnast and his father a former equestrian and now a coach. Today Alla is busy coaching young gymnasts around Israel, including at the home of many Israel Gymnastics 2012 medalists, Snunit Modiin.
We had the opportunity to interview Alla before Alex left for the XXX Olympic Games.
What is your first Olympic memory?
That is easy, the 1980 Olympics.
What is your favorite Olympic Sport other than gymnastics?
Athletics and diving.
When did you know that Alex was going to be a star?
As a former gymnast and a coach I could tell from a very young age that he had the ability to go far with gymnastics, still, it was a lot of work.
As a mother, what was your biggest challenge with an all star child athlete?
Honestly, I didn’t think about it. We just encouraged our children to do their best. This meant however that the boys did not go out as much as other kids; they were either busy studying or training.
How did that affect your family?
Everyone in our house is an athlete – we live and breathe like athletes. Alex’s older brother started to train at the same time but after six years of training he moved on to soccer and today he coaches at Maccabi Haifa Soccer Club.
What was the first thing that you said to him when he won medals at the 2009 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships?
Kol Hakavod – Way to go! Now back to training.
I am very proud of him.
How did sport affect your aliyah and being a new immigrant?
I don’t know if it did, we are professionals, and we integrated with other Israelis, immigrants and with people from the world of sport.
Are you going to be attending the Games when Alex competes?
No. Absolutely not. I will be out of the house; I will program the TV to record the events. I am much too nervous to watch them live! Actually, I will probably be walking the dog.
How can Israel develop more Olympic athletes?
The foundation has to change. Better training facilities have to be built. Schools have to put more emphasis on sports. Once a potential star athlete has been spotted, the athlete must be nurtured. Young athletes reach a critical age at 12, but to achieve excellence they have to continue. It is too easy to give up when you are 13 or 14!
What would you say to a mother whose child wants to be an Olympian?
They have to work hard, everyone, the whole family. Move closer to the best facilities and train train train.
A while back, Alex Shatilov made a promised to three gymnasts from Snunit Modiin (Alla Shatilov is their coach). He would give them his own medals if they win their competition. The three competed together for the last time before going to the army at the Israel Acrobatic Association Competition, they came in first place, and Alla Shatilov presented the girls the medals after their win.
Alla, we will be watching and cheering for Alex as he goes for the gold.