Interview - Olympic champion Zulfiya Chinshanlo10 august 2012, 13:18
19-y.o. Zulfiya Chinshanlo who won the gold medal in -53 category of weightlifting event at London Olympics-2012 proved that she doesn’t talk to the wind. Four years ago she set a goal to win an Olympic gold medal and achieved it in London. She also set a world record by lifting 131kg in clean and jerk and an Olympic record in a combined total of 226kg. Zulfiya told KazTAG about her path to the victory on the day of her arrival in Almaty.
Question: Many fans note how easily you deal with the barbell, even though you are not very tall. Not many men can do it the way you do. Please tell us where you were born and how you decided to choose this sport that is not an easy one for a woman and who influenced your choice?
Answer: I was born in Almaty. Then I moved with my parents to China. In 2007 I was invited to Kazakhstan national team.
Being a young girl, I already tried my strength against boys. That’s why the squabblers were scared and stayed away from me. When I turned 11, my physical culture teacher suggested that I would try myself in weightlifting. My mother was against the idea, but my father said: “Why not try if our daughter has got the skills and desire”.
Q: Where does your strength come from? Are your parents musclemen?
A: No, my mother and father work as pastrycooks. I think the strength comes from the trainings. I have a brother, but he (with a smile) avoids trying his strength against me.
Q: What were your thoughts before you lifted the barbell (at the Olympics)? How did you tune yourself to lift the record weight?
A: I was waiting for this medal for five years, I dreamed about it. All coaches and all Kazakhstan fans were waiting for it as well. And finally this day came. I was thinking about one thing only: I had to lift the weight and win. I reminded myself that I used to lift even more at the trainings: up to 245kg!
Zulfiya Chinshanlo at the London Olympics-2012. ©REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Q: This is much more than the world record! Perhaps, that’s why the sportsmen say that trainings are much different from the tournaments?
A: Of course! That’s why my gold medal seemed so heavy to me (laughs), even heavier than the barbell!
Q: What were the feelings you had in the first minutes after the successful attempt?
A: In the beginning I felt as if it wasn't me that all these things were happening to. I couldn’t believe that the dream could come true in a flicker of a second. But I believed in the reality of what was happening a few minutes after the victory when I received a call from President Nursultan Nazarbayev who warmly congratulated me and wished new victories in sport and in life.
Q: What was the reaction of your friends and family?
A: There were a lot of congratulations and calls. I am with all my heart thankful to our fans for such a support! I remember especially well the phone conversation with Tanya, the daughter of our coach Aleksey Ni. Before the departure I promised to win gold medal in commemoration of her birthday on July 29. Plus I just turned 19 four days before her birthday.
People around te whole Kazakhstan congratulated me. I received calls from my friends from Dungan village of Zhambyl oblast, Sortobe and Massanchi villages where Maiya Maneza and me are frequently invited and very warmly received. They told that the citizens did not sleep at night when they found out about my and Maiya’s victories. They went outside, gathered at the village club to express their emotions and impressions. Some of them even set fireworks.
Q: Some experts say that psychological state of mind is more important than strength in weightlifting. What do you think?
A: I fully agree about the coaches’ role. I cannot even find the words to express my gratitude to all our coaches: Aleksey and Viktor Ni, Enver Turkeleri and other coaches who share their knowledge and wisdom with us. But I also see from my experience that one cannot achieve anything without persistent and exhausting trainings.
Zulfiya Chinshanlo. ©AFP
Q: As they say train hard, fight easy. How long do you have to train to be ready for a serious tournament?
A: I think this has to be decided by each coach and each sportsman individually. Me and my friends in the team, especially at the Olympics, we were training every day, two or three times a day. Every training lasted for around 2 hours.
Q: If multiplying this time by kg, you have lifted many tons… I guess, not only for gold, but also for such difficult job, senior coach Aleksey Ni promised you lots of ice-cream after the victory?
A: Yes, he did …
Q: Has he kept his promise?
A: No. I really won the gold medal, but I could not set the promised world record of 135kg (smilingly notes that this is a mock punishment).
Q: I suppose it was tough to live in London without Kazakh or Dungan cuisine that you are used to?
A: We had very good food there. I started gaining weight, when I gave way to my appetite after the tournament. Generally, I like to eat well after the tournaments and long restrictions.
Q: Did they serve British food as well?
A: Of course, they did!
Q: What was your favorite?
A: …Ice cream was the tastiest! I am a candy girl.
Q: Sorry for the personal question: when you were asked when you were going get married you replied “Tomorrow”. How are you really doing in your private life?
A: It was a joke! I think there is no rush there yet. I have some plans before getting married.
Q: Tell us the truth, do you want to win a second Olympic gold?
A: (Smiling) Yes, I do. But I have to pull myself together first.
Q: You have become a champion already! Do you have any other big dream?
A: …Honestly, I don’t want anything right now. There is only one wish: to recuperate and have some rest.
Q: What would you like to say to your peers?
A: Don’t think that everything comes easy in life. You should have a clear goal and if you work towards it step by step, you will surely reach it.
Olympic champion Zulfiya Chinshanlo. ©REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Q: Thank you for the interview and wish you new victories!