National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus
27 May 2020
Khloptseva: my calling is to teach a child to swim

After completing a brilliant career at a high level, Yelena Khloptseva chose one of the most important and necessary professions - the swimming coach.

The Olympic champion, who has a birthday on May 21, does not aspire to raise a champion from everyone, but rejoices at the little success of her kids, who for the first time could swim from side to side. Yelena told the press service of the NOC about her success at the Olympic Games in Moscow, her work as a coach.

– Yelena, in 2020 it will be forty years of your victory at the Games in Moscow...

– Time flies fast. We've been waiting for this performance... It's no secret that for many Soviet athletes, the starts in Moscow were the peak of their careers. It's nice to be able to win a gold medal, but it was worth serious work.

– For the USSR national team at the Moscow Olympics, a gold medal for Yelena Khloptseva and Larisa Popova was the only award of the highest standard in rowing. Were you surprised by such success?

– The sports committee and coaching staff were planning, of course, more medals. That's for sure. So, what didn't work out?

– We, athletes, did not get into it, the main thing was to do our job qualitatively. Feelings from the victory - very pleasant, we prepared for the Games heavily, although all season, and earlier, I played in the four, but at the championship of the USSR there was an agreement: first, we "chase away" each in his class (Larisa Popova - in singles, I - in the four). In the end, they showed good results, and the coaches entrusted us to perform in Moscow. Honestly, I wasn't worried: I'm only 20 years old, I was planning to play a long time, and for my partner, it was already the second Olympics. Larisa Popova was much more experienced and gave us confidence.

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Yelena Khloptseva (on the left) and Larisa Popova on the podium

 – Was the final race well remembered?

 The decisive race began with a false start. The duo from the GDR - very strong - made a mistake, after which the tension subsided. What can I say about the race? We won confidently, left no chance for the rivals. Then there were still successes in the fours with Larisa Popova at the world championships and the «Druzhba-84» competition, which was held for the countries of the socialist camp instead of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In terms of the composition of participants, «Druzhba» was not inferior to the main start of the four years.

– You also contributed to the blossoming of the first Olympic champion in the history of independent Belarus Ekaterina Karsten. How did you end up in one boat?

 I knew about the fact that she was a promising and very gifted athlete earlier when Katya was still in the junior team of the USSR. The national team and reserve team often prepared together and already saw what she was capable of. Together they performed in a quadruple boat at the Games in Barcelona in 1992. Head coach Anatoliy Kviatkovsky collected a combat-ready quartet, he knew that I racing well in the quartet, and Karsten was already gaining strength, he also invited Antonina Zelikovich and Tatiana Ustyuzhanina. The team was strong, winning a bronze award in Spain.

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Ekaterina Karsten (in the center) and Yelena Khloptseva (on the right) at the Games in Barcelona.

– You came to rowing from swimming. How did you change your sport?

– I liked swimming and was good at it. At the age of 13 I had already fulfilled the standard of the master of sports of the USSR, although I got into the pool, you can say, for the company. My first coach Rimma Petrovna Voitsik moved, but she was very reverent to her students. She advised me to your friends' coaches from rowing.

– Why did you come back to swim?

– I was just finishing rowing, I was wondering what I planned to do after my career. I made a decision right away: if I go to the coaching job, it's only swimming. It pulled me back into the pool, and I told my coaches about it more than once.

– Yelena, do you like your work?

– Now I have no idea what I would become after my career. It's nice to know that I taught one of the kids to swim, to see their happy faces. Adults can also be grateful when they're free to swim for the first hundred meters.

– Do your students know what a serious sporting past you have?

– Children know, but some kids have no idea that I am an Olympic champion in rowing. I don't advertise much, I'm happy that they are making progress.

– How will you celebrate your birthday?

– In a very close circle. So far, it's hard to gather all the relatives, but the main thing is that everyone is healthy and happy.



Press service of the NOC of Belarus

Photo: world rowing and from personal archive.

Tags: Khloptseva; Olympics 80