Last summer, a high-profile change occurred in Russian biathlon: Elena Kruchinkina returned to her homeland from Belarus. Her transition came suddenly, when all the lineups had already been formed. The athlete unsuccessfully ran a race at the Commonwealth Cup in Sochi, making ten mistakes, but in Tyumen, at the summer national championship, she, together with her new team, stood on the podium in the relay.
After the finish line, Elena Kruchinkina spoke about her sudden return to Russia.
“My test scores were much better than other girls.”
—How did you find out that your services are no longer needed in Belarus? “Sister Irina called me and told me she had bad news for me: “When you come I will tell you.” I arrived at the first training camp in Raubichi and everyone around me made surprised faces: are you at the training camp? Why shouldn’t I be at the meeting? Then Irina told me that the entire team was informed that I was no longer part of the team. Of course, I had a question: why didn’t anyone tell me anything? Even when I came to the meeting, my sister told me, but no one else said anything.
Biathlete Kruchinkina returned to Russia
Round trip. Why did the biathlete of the Belarusian team decide to compete with Russia?
—Not a single member of the management of the Belarusian team? “I myself approached the state coach Yuri Yuryevich Albers and asked him what was happening. He was surprised: “What? Oleg Ryzhenkov didn’t talk to you?” No, he didn’t talk to me. He was waiting for me to properly explain what was happening. The new coach of the national team, Oleg Ryzhenkov, I was told, had gone somewhere and I waited for him to arrive by plane and tell me what had happened.
– And what explanation did you hear? “They told me there should be younger athletes on the team. Although at the first training camp I was tested, which showed that my performance was much better than other girls. Sorry, Alexander Babchin runs on the Bashkortostan team, he is already 37 years old, but he runs, takes gold in the Russian championship and no one chases him. In the Belarusian team we are all the same age. Irina Krivko is generally four years older than me. I can fight, achieve results and help the team. But they told me that she was already there, that there were no options for me to continue in the national team.
“I just took a vacation on my own and flew to Tyumen”
— Did you already have a backup plan? – No, at that time there were no options. After all, teams are formed in the off-season, and not in May, when the preparatory period begins. If they had told me at the end of last season I would have started looking for options, but they told me in mid-May. Just in case, I called the Tyumen region and Maxim Vladimirovich Kugaevsky told me that the team had been formed. But if everything goes well, they will take me into account when competing for the region.
— Did you talk only with the Tyumen region or were there other options? —There was another option, but only as a guess. When Maxim Vladimirovich called me after a while and told me to come, I didn’t look for anything else. I packed my things and left. I didn’t even work for a week on the Belarusian team. Training camp is over; In any case, I would have to pay for accommodation and food on my own. I just took a vacation on my own and flew to Tyumen.
The Russian biathlete will compete for Finland
“It’s a challenge for myself.” Interview with a Russian biathlete who changed her citizenship
Or rather, first home to Saransk, where I did a small training camp on my own, and then to Tyumen. Here coach Dmitry Anatolyevich Pantov helped me a lot. He helped me transition to shooting from the right: I’m left-handed, he took care of the team.
“It would be arrogant to ask them to melt a barrel for me”
—Why couldn’t it have been made for a left-handed rifle? —There are very few weapons for left-handed people. They need to be specially molded and this is very expensive. There was no such trunk in the Tyumen region and I did not want to force my new region; Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to continue my career. Asking them to melt a barrel for me would be arrogance. I just decided to adapt to my right hand. This is not new to me. As a teenager I ran with that log for five years, in junior I switched to my left hand and ran like that for 10 years. Now I go back to the right.
– How difficult is it? Is it muscle memory? —It’s difficult, but it’s possible. If you want to run, be able to turn, as they say. I really want to run, I’m not willing to lose what I’ve been doing for many years. Therefore, I adapt and work hard to switch to a right-handed cannon.
“I hope my words don’t affect my sister.”
— You were in the Belarusian national team, now in the regional team. How different are the conditions? — The Tyumen region is a good and rich region. Here the equipment is delivered, the equipment is delivered and the fees are paid. I wouldn’t say there’s a big difference. Perhaps in some little things, for example, in the constant biochemistry during training. I wouldn’t say there are big differences. In Tyumen all conditions have been created to show good results.
— Recently you spoke quite harshly about the leadership of the Belarusian team. Now I repeated it again. Aren’t you afraid that this will affect your sister in some way? – I told the truth. What, should I have stayed silent? I hope this doesn’t affect Irina in any way, my sister has nothing to do with it, these are just my business. I was silent about many things, but now resentment has played a role in me. Maybe somewhere there was not enough wisdom to remain silent, but I couldn’t do it. But overall I didn’t say anything bad, so it is what it is.