Kholodova tells gymnasts not to forget their roots after attaining fame
KUALA LUMPUR: All Russian rhythmic gymnastics coach Helen Kholodova asks for is a little gratitude and appreciation from her charges for grooming them into champions.
“When one achieves success, she should not forget her roots and the people who helped her reach the top. That is what I have always taught my gymnasts,” she said in response to allegations made by New Delhi Commonwealth Games star performer Elaine Koon that the coach had asked her for a portion of her winnings.
Elaine pocketed RM180,00 for winning a gold, a silver and three bronze medals in New Delhi.
“I did not ask for any money. All I wanted was for the gymnast to show her appreciation to those who had helped her with a simple ‘thank you’ or even with flowers,” said Kholodova yesterday.
“She may not have been happy with me because I had pushed her in training ... but there are others who support her.
“I am disappointed because all my efforts are forgotten when one attains fame.”
Elaine had also claimed in a letter sent to The Star that Kholodova did not want to coach her after the Commonwealth Games and had humiliated and abused her during training.
“She controls everything and even got several previous gymnasts out of the national team. I am afraid I will face the same fate. I can no longer go back to the national team and be associated with her,” complained Elaine in the letter.
She then brought the matter up with the National Sports Council (NSC) director general, Datuk Zolkples Embong.
On Wednesday, the gymnast got her way when the NSC allowed her to stay in the programme and choose her own coach.
Kholodova admitted that “I am a strict coach during training” but that, according to her, is necessary to produce champions.
“Yes, I am strict and fierce like a tigress. I scold them and I shout at them. What do you expect me to do when a gymnast continues to do the same mistakes after being corrected umpteen times?” asked Kholodova.
“Sometimes, I slap their thighs when they do not stand in a proper way. My patience is always tested. But outside of the training ground, I am like a friend and mother to them.
“I was a gymnast before and I have gone through so much hardship when I was in the Russian team. But here, everyone just whines and complains.
“It is difficult to reach the top without hard work. I can take the easy way out and make training fun and easy. I will not lose out ... but the gymnast and the country will.”
Kholodova, who has been training here for 15 years, said that she had always made it clear to her gymnasts to be prepared for tough training and demanded a winning attitude from her charges.
“They could leave if they wanted to. I have had other gymnasts, like Thye Chee Kiat, Crystal Lim, S. Priya Devi, El Regina Tajuddin and Farah Hana Azmi, under my care and they were a different breed of athletes. They persevered through the hardship to achieve success,” she said, adding that “a gymnast needs to have strong mental strength to overcome all the challenges”.
“Sadly, this is what is lacking in Malaysian gymnasts. I hope parents will be more supportive. I am here not to kill their gymnastics career but give them one.
“I treat everyone equally.” - theStarOnline