Doha: Legendary gymnast Svetlana Boguinskaia is relishing her role as an Ambassador for Artistic Gymnastics World Championships Doha 2018.
The Olympian from Belarus is ‘extremely proud and honoured’ in her role at the Qatari capital where all the big names are competing for top honours.
Boguinskaia remains an essential figure in the soul of Gymnastics. The ‘Belarusian Swan’, Boguinskaia was equal parts athlete and artist.
The Minsk native didn’t just compete, she performed, drawing in the audience with her mesmerising command of movement and musicality.
Boguinskaia, who made her debut for the Soviet team at the 1987 World Championships in Rotterdam, would go on to win five Olympic medals (three golds, one silver, one bronze) and nine World Championships medals (five golds, three silvers, one bronze).
She retired in 1993 but made a comeback in 1995 and competed in her third Olympic Games in 1996. Following her retirement in 1997, she has continued to be active in the sport through exhibitions, coaching, appearances, and as a businesswoman.
Following are the excerpts of her interview with the FIG.
Q: What does it mean for you to be Artistic Gymnastics Ambassador for the 2018 World Championships in Doha?
A: I am extremely proud and honoured to be the Artistic Gymnastics Ambassador for the 2018 World Championship in Doha. The love for this beautiful yet difficult sport will always be in my heart. Knowing how hard athletes train to get to the world-class level, it is my duty to help them by providing advice, support and by cheering them on.
Q: What has this sport brought to your life?
A: The sport of Gymnastics brought to me so many positive and useful lessons that I use in my adult life every day. It has taught me hard work, punctuality, respect, teamwork, perseverance, goal setting and the attitude to never give up on your dreams.
I got a chance to travel representing my country in competitions but most importantly making life-lasting friendships with athletes from all over the world.
Q:If you could relive a moment in your Gymnastics life, what would it be and why?
A: In the team final of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, we took the gold medal (as the Unified team) and we stood on the podium one last time all together representing the USSR. At that moment, we realised that it would be almost impossible to be the dominant team ever again.
Q: Of all the advice you were given in your career, is there one thing that has really stuck with you and made a difference for you?
A: Absolutely! As a young gymnast at age 7, I had my first competition thinking I was completely ready. Little did I know when it came to Balance Beam that I would be so nervous that I fell five times, on every skill, jump or turn in my routine. I was so upset I stood crying in disbelief of my poor performance. My coach Lyubov Miromanova came, gave me a hug and told me it was OK to make mistakes and learn from them. She recommended singing my favorite song during my routine to regulate my breathing as I kept holding my breath for too long. I took her advice back to the gym and few years later it helped me to become European and World Champion on Balance Beam!
Q: What would you tell a young child who dreams of being a World or an Olympic champion in Gymnastics?
A: I would tell a young child whose dream it is to become World and Olympic champion that IT IS POSSIBLE! Hard work, determination, perseverance and passion will take you to your dreams. Just remember 100% in effort = 100% in result. But most important is to never ever give up on your dreams no matter what anyone else tells you.