Another “On Par” Interview by Dmitry Klokov.
This time he has Dmitry Berestov on the sofa.
Check out Dmitry’s other interviews here.
If you can help with the translation, it would be greatly appreciated by every ATG reader.
Update 6.10.2013: Translation of both parts completed.
Thanks to reader Stas who translated this for us!
My dad used to wake us up at 8 am before school to go runningKlokov: Hello everybody, today will talk “On Par” with a master of sport, 2004 Olympic champion in Athens, European champion 2008, Berestov Dmitry Vladimirovitch.
Thank you Dima for agreeing to do this interview. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I’ve been waiting to have a chat with you. I’m confident that the conversation will not only be interesting for us but also for the audience. Let me remind the audience that Dmitry Berestov was born 13 June 1980 in Moscow, where he lives and trains.
Let’s talk about your childhood years. It’ll be interesting to know in what kind of family the future Olympic champion was born and raised. What did your parents do? Let’s start with parents first.
Berestov: I’d like to say that all of my achievements were performed thanks to my parents because when I was younger, my dad used to get me and my older brother involved with exercise. I remember he used to wake us up at 8 am before school to go running and warm-up exercises. With family we always used to go skiing and because of that we grew up healthy and then went into sport.
Klokov: Did your parents do any sport?
Berestov: Father did fencing. Our closet at home had swords in it all the time. He wasn’t a professional sports person but he did it when he was a junior. Mom during her student years used to play volleyball.
Klokov: I guess you could say you grew up in the “sporting family”?
Berestov: I wouldn’t say a “sporting family” but they were the ones that lead me into sport and healthy lifestyle. Of course sometimes, as a kid, it was very hard to get up in the morning [laughs].
Klokov: You know, our families may be similar in a way. My father was a weightlifting champion and my mother was a figure (lower level) skater. Did your older brother also do weightlifting?
Berestov: Yes, my brother has also done weightlifting. In fact he started before me, because I doing other things like karate…
Klokov: You were in karate?
Berestov: You know, during the younger years my parents were always trying to introduce me to different sports. I think this situation happens even now, when parents are thinking “what sport should we introduce to our child?”…
Klokov: To tell you the truth, it doesn’t really matter.
Berestov: I agree. At the beginning I used to really want to play soccer. Near my house there used to be a stadium and a swimming pool called “Trud” and my mother tried to sign me up for soccer there, but they didn’t teach soccer there at the time. She told me “Well, there’s no soccer – let’s do swimming!” [both laughing] but I was absolutely terrified of water and depth!
I used to have this phobia that came from trying to swim. At school they tried to teach us swimming at the big pool and they used this “Brazilian system” where they’d drop kids into water – some kids swap up and others had to be rescued with a stick. I was very horrified by this method and I decided not to even jump in the water try it so I made a scene and told my mother that I’d never come to a swimming pool to do swimming.
[5 minute mark]
Klokov: Do you still have this phobia or is it gone?
Berestov: Yes, it’s gone.
Klokov: So you’re going to participate with me in diving during next season? [laughing]
Berestov: That’s too extreme for me, I don’t think I’m ready. [laughing] I used to jump off 3m and 5m heights but it was just feet first. You know I wasn’t really “gifted” when it comes to doing acrobatic movements like backflips, etc.
Klokov: Before this project, in my 30 years I always wished I could do a backflip. I had never done it before ,but after doing the diving program they taught me! I can stand up and do it right now!!
Berestov: Yeah you can learn these things when you’re older but you know it is easier to learn it when you’re younger. I remember at Chekhov camp we used to swim at the pool and by accident stumbled across kids doing their diving training. They must have been aged 7 or 8 and they just climb up on 5m height and were doing all kind of acrobatic jumps, it was awesome!! But I was horrified by it all.
Klokov: Okay, so after the pool where did you go?
Berestov: After the pool, I went to do karate where my older brother also used to train. I did it for 3 or 4 months but I didn’t like it.
Klokov: I understand what you mean, before weightlifting I did a little bit of judo. I understand why you didn’t want to be there [laughing].
Berestov: Basically, had some good friends at school, they didn’t go to do karate, but used to go down to the basement to lift. I wanted to see what they were up to and discovered weightlifting.
Klokov: Your brother also did some lifting?
Berestov: Yes, he also used to lift, he started 2 years before me. I remember one moment when my brother began his weightlifting, my dad went to the factory and made a kid’s bar. It wasn’t a professional bar but you could put some disks on it. My brother used to show me these weird exercises [he is talking about snatch and clean/jerk here], I didn’t even know what the names of them were but I was laughing so hard thinking “what the f*ck is this, what are you doing??? Why would I want to do this!”
Klokov: [laughing] So when did you decide to do weightlifting?
Berestov: After 2 years my brother stopped training and I came to the gym and saw my friends training. I just want to mention my first coach and the importance of a first coach. If I only came and watched maybe I would have never returned the second time. I was about 10 years then.
Klokov: How heavy were you, what category?
Berestov: I’d say I wasn’t fat but also wasn’t skinny, I weighed about 36kg. After a few months training I was weighing about 34kg. Our training consisted of general warm-up, jumping, running, games, etc. Older kids used to do backflips. Everyone did what was really fun at that age.
Then we did our main training, after training we played table tennis, then sauna. The main point here is that I really enjoyed being part of all of this, collective unity, my friends – I couldn’t imagine my life without this anymore. Everyday after school I didn’t want to go play soccer anymore, I always wanted to go and lift. Of course after the first competition which I won and after I felt this “taste of competition” I begin to experience a lot of motivation to train seriously in Chekhov. I came to Chekhov in 1994 and from then began training and growing up here. I remember these times as the best time of my life.
Klokov: You still maintain contact with those friends?
Berestov: Oh yeah, we still talk.
Klokov: Dima you said that you came to train weightlifting when you were 35kg, in the lightest category and I also know that you competed as a superheavy weight as well.
Berestov: Yeah, my max bodyweight was 114kg (~251lb).
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Klokov: I want you to dispel the myth in weightlifting that kids who do weightlifting no longer grow in height. [laughing] An Olympic champion will now tell the parents and confused teenagers about it… What’s your height?
Berestov: 180cm (5’11”).
Klokov: I’m 183cm (6’0”) … And as you can see we didn’t grow at all. [both laughing]
Berestov: You know, I have to tell these things every year and several times a year. Every interview I talk about this to parents that it is a myth that we need to destroy. Actually, my parents didn’t agree with me doing weightlifting at first and they had the same concerns but my first coach changed their minds by thoroughly explaining to them it is in fact not true at all. I used to always give this example, this boy came to the gym with bent/bowed knees and bent back…
Klokov: Are bent/bowed knees bad? [both laughing, klokov is hinting at his own genetics]
Berestov: Everyone was saying why do you need weightlifting, even doctors but after 1 year of training his core/abdominals were developing and his posture began to improve but of course his legs still didn’t straighten… [both laughing] He was starting to look like a really handsome young man. Nobody would have thought that a year ago he was looking like he was.
Klokov: Everyone also says that weightlifters are also very inflexible and stiff. I came to weightlifting from Judo. I did Judo for 3 years, during those years I was bent into all kinds of shapes but I came to weightlifting very stiff after all these years you’ve seen how flexible I am. I can probably put my leg behind my head!
Berestov: Yeah of course. With you as an example, you’re showing that weightlifting is not just about smaller [height/levers] people and larger [super heavyweight] people but also very aesthetic athletes who kids can look up to.
Klokov: I read somewhere that you wanted to become an Olympic champion right from your very first training. I don’t know if you understood the meaning of words “Olympic champion” at that age but never the less you said somewhere.
Berestov: No, no I don’t think I wanted to after my first training. Probably during my first few years training, after my first competition, when I became confident in the gym, when I looked at the photos of the past champions, when I looked at the tv when they broadcasted world championships/Olympic games. I remember I looked at the photos of Pisarenko, Alexejev, Rigert – I looked up to them. I had a dream that one day I will also be one of them, to be as beautiful and strong as they were. I remember this 100%.
Klokov: How old were you then?
Berestov: I think about 11-12 at the time.
Klokov: Lets talk about your first trainer. His name was Mikhail Okunev, unfortunately he is no longer with us. What was he like as a person? Because as trainer we can see he was very intelligent and could create interest with kids when it came to weightlifting.
Berestov: He was a great person – very intelligent, kind, and helpful. I’d never any bad words about him, only good ones.
Klokov: Did he do weightlifting himself?
My first coach didn’t just teach me to lift weights, he taught me to love weightlifting.Berestov: Yes he did, but he wasn’t a professional weightlifting. I know he used to do soccer. He had a very diverse background in sports, which is probably why he became a coach. You know, there are coaches who only work with kids and there are coaches with only work with professional sportspeople, but he was the kind of trainer that could create an athlete from a very young age to a master of sport. This is a very good trait. This is why we (all athletes who trained under Okunev) have created a special tournament and compete in his honor. He was like a second father to me because I spent a lot of time in the gym. He didn’t just teach me to lift weights, he taught me to love weightlifting.
Klokov: How was he able to do it? Personally, my father and my first trainer taught me to love weightlifting through collecting various things such as badges, medals from their competitions. So I started to collect all those things, became submerged into weightlifting and began to love it and wanted to become a champion also.
Berestov: I’d say my experiences were sort of similar as well. There were a lot of generations training under Okunev and I know he used to coach Junior USSR team (that included Zahkarevich, etc) then as well. He used to tell us stories about them, how he used to coach them etc. – it is through his stories that I began to love weightlifting. Not just me, but also my friends. Some of my friends didn’t achieve much in weightlifting but to this day they still remember Okunev and their weightlifting years.
Klokov: I understand that Okunev’s athletes are helping out with the tournament in his memory. But who came up with the idea first?
Berestov: My friend and I had this idea. The first tournament started in 2005. Okunev died in 2004 before the Olympics – he never got to see me win the Olympics. So yeah, this was an idea of two friends who remember and love their first coach. We called everyone up, everyone donated some money, we created the tournament in his honor, bought some prizes… [Berestov mentions Sony Playstation as one of prizes].
Klokov: [laughing] WOW, I remember they used to give out vacuums at Russian National champions but at Berestov’s tournament they give out Sony Playstation!
Berestov: [laughing] Yeah … I just want to say thank-you to everyone who helped out creating this tournament.
Klokov: When do you hold the tournament?
Berestov: In January, because he died in January. Last time, we even had Mikhail Koklyaev attending. He thought he was just going to talk, I spoke to him more about the tournament told him kids were coming and he got very excited and presented such a show that all the kids and spectators loved it! We also have master lifters competing at the tournament – it’s a 3 day event, last time we had about 150 people participate. It’s good to show parents etc that weightlifting can be done at any age – masters and young kids lifting the same bar. It gives everyone a good feeling.
Berestov: I’d like to also take this opportunity to invite you to the tournament, maybe you can come talk or show something?
Klokov: Yes of course, it just depends when if I’ll be around at that time. We’ll try and film it as well so people can see.
Let’s talk about your second coach. Can you call him your coach? I remember one time you came to the Russian championships with another coach, which is why I’m not sure?
Berestov: Yes, you can call him my second coach…
Klokov: It’s just I was reading on the internet and he wasn’t mentioned anywhere as your second coach.
Berestov: Let me explain the situation without stepping on anyone’s toes. 1998, when I was 18 years old I had a disruption in my sporting career. I felt that Okunev couldn’t improve my performance anymore and he was experiencing hard times with his health. So I knew I had to make a decision which is when I met Ivan Niketich (sp), he really helped me with training programming.
If you met you’d understand that when he coached you he’d put everything that he had into you [support wise]. When we were preparing for World Juniors one time, he went into debt only because he wanted to support me leading up to the competition in terms of pharmacology, vitamins and food [be careful how you interpret that, I think he just means supplements]. He was really determined to help me and the end result is that I came 2nd at the championship. Ivan Niketich was himself a weightlifter, but couldn’t quite make it into “big leagues” due to a lot of competition during the times of USSR.
Klokov: Right, so you’ve had great results with Ivan Niketich but you still parted ways because you’ve met your third coach, A. Anosov?
Berestov: We have a situation here, where I believe both coaches were in the wrong…
Klokov: You mean they couldn’t divide you between themselves?
Berestov: I guess you could say that but it was a really traumatic time for me because I don’t think that a sports person should be put through that. I don’t really understand this situation very well. After the Junior Worlds where Ivan Niketich helped me, we continued to train together for 3 more years and prepared for Russian Junior championship which I have won. During the medal ceremony A. Anosov came out to take the credit, which I perceived was unfair because the results were achieved with the help of Ivan Niketich.
After A. Anosov came to me and said that he and Niketich can no longer work together and because of that he will no longer train you and I will be your coach. To which I didn’t agree and that I wanted to work with Ivan Niketich who increased my performance up to this point. However, after having a chat with I. Niketich we agreed that it would be for the best if I trained under Anosov. This situation was quite stress for me. [Translators note: I believe A. Anosov was the director of school/gym where Berestov and Ivan Niketich trained at the time.]
Klokov: So do you regret switching coaches? What kind of trainer was Anosov?
Berestov: You know, even to this day I’m still a little affected by the whole situation. I’m not angry at anyone but I just want to let everyone know that a sports person is still a human with feelings and despite the animosity that you may have between each other it is still important to consider the stress of such situation on the athlete. Everything worked out in the end though.
Without Anosov I couldn’t have made it to the Olympics, but if you want to talk about trainer characteristics Anosov was a better manager and director than coach per se, but at this level it was probably more important. Having said that, I still needed someone to watch me in the gym and give me feedback.
Don’t me wrong I am a very independent athlete and can train by myself but with a coach he has the ability to pull you back which can prevent you from getting injuries. Anosov simply didn’t have time to be at the training camps with me and participate in the training process as much. So I had to write my own programs.
Klokov: I can understand this very well. [laughing] As you can see though, your training practice has worked out very well for you because you became an Olympic champion and an interesting one at that because being an Olympic champion you’ve never won Russian championships, how do you feel about it? [laughing]
Berestov: [laughing] Of course I want to win Russian championships.
Preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games
Klokov: Let’s talk about your preparation for the Olympic games because nobody really remembers how you prepared because you seemed like an underdog at the time.
Berestov: Well it first started from my first participation in European championships as a senior lifter in 2003. It was such a terrible championship for me because I didn’t show a good result. Everyone got medals, but I was the only one that didn’t get anything.
I felt really guilty and that I let the team down. This was a significant moment that gave me motivation to train even harder. So when I went to European championships in 2004, with you, there was a different type of preparation in terms of plans and I knew that I’d perform well. At the time I didn’t really think about Olympics, it was too far for me because Russia had other great athletes at the time – V. Smortchkov, Gleb Pisaretski.
Anyway, I remember my last few attempts at the 2004 Europeans – I missed 225 in the clean/jerk second attempt. When I walked off stage I had these negative thoughts in my head that I’m not good enough and that “If I didn’t CJ 227 (which the coaches had already put on the attempt cards) I’m going to retire from this sport“. You have to remember that I lifted 230kg at the Russian championships. With these thoughts I went out and CJ 227kg successfully – this moment changed my sporting life. If I didn’t lift it I don’t know what would’ve happened, maybe it would be different. Then we’ve had your attempts and Alan Tsagaev, but it didn’t really matter then because I felt like I’ve “emptied my tank” and was satisfied with my performance. Then we’ve had a selection for the Olympics which went very well without any injuries, maybe that’s why I showed such result.
Klokov: I think at the time it was a little bit unfair to put selection competition so close to the Olympiad – we were told to prepare for the Olympiad and that there was no need to specifically peak for the selection competition and the performance at the selection competition would be “with a reserve”. [ie not fully maxing out and fatiguing yourself] Rigert made this clear.
Berestov: I’m not sure who said what to anybody but my preparation was aimed strictly for the selection competition because I knew this was my last chance to qualify for the Olympiad.
Klokov: What was your most serious injury? My most serious injury is the shoulder.
Another injury that I’ve had for years is overtrainingBerestov: Most of the injuries came after the Olympiad. If you want to talk about injuries with regards to attaining a career ending type injury then in 2009 I had an elbow dislocation during clean/jerk. It was probably because I increased my performance very rapidly, grew a lot of muscle but my ligaments were still weak. But I don’t think it’s a career ending injury though, it happened through my mistake and it could be corrected with proper training process. Another injury that I’ve had for years is overtraining. You know you can’t really call that an injury. It’s more about listening to your body and knowing when to decrease the training load and because of that you’re like to not get injured.
Klokov: So train like Khadzhimurat Akkaev trains? If he feels like anything is niggly – he stops!
Klokov: When you were preparing for the Olympiad, your main competitor was Glebb Pisarevski. I remember during his preparation he C&J 250kg (550lb) and cleaned 255kg! (561lb) weighting 110kg (242lb) bodyweight. [Video here]
Berestov: During my preparation I was thinking about medaling and I had a belief in myself that I could win. My coach (Anosov) used to joke around about it. He would come to training with an exercise book and tell me: “Look what I wrote here – #1 Berestov, #2 Someone, #3 Pisarevski!” I told him “I’m still preparing for the competition coach!” But he kept on saying “I’m telling you you’re going to win!” [laughing] He really believed in me.
I really enjoyed that preparation because despite Glebb lifting such weights, I was sincerely very happy for him and his results. I never thought I could beat him. A lot of people said that he broke down psychologically and that his father’s sickness affected him, but in his defense I’d like to say that every athlete goes through different “ups and downs” and that each of us deals with such things in our own way.
I remember he was suffering severe back pain 2 weeks before competition, he couldn’t lift anything, and everyone was panicking but he still managed to come through and place 3rd at the Olympiad.
Winning the Olympics
Berestov: I felt pretty good after my first attempt. I didn’t know if I was going to win or lose. Emotionally and psychologically very strong and felt like no matter what weight was put up I was going to lift it. I even felt this in the warm up and in my subsequent attempts. I missed one attempt (232kg) and I contribute this to me starting to relax a little bit and began to lose concentration due to the fact that I realized I was going to walk away with a secured medal. After my 230 CJ I was very sure that I was going to be the champion even with an attempt still left to be completed by another lifter.
Klokov: If you were to compare winning European championship and Olympic Games, did you feel any different?
Berestov: Yes of course, at each of those competitions I’ve had different mind sets. At the Olympiad I gave it everything and felt like I could give no more. After the medal ceremony, Glebb and I hugged and both of us cried from happiness. Then I was sure that Glebb wasn’t crying from coming 3rd but that he was very happy for me.
Klokov: I completely understand what you’re talking about. If you recall my Olympic Games with Dmitry Lapikov, I remember when we stood on the podium Lapikov touches me on the shoulder and says “Look it’s Glebb!” I turned around and see Glebb waving his arms and supporting from the stands. He was very happy for us from the bottom of his soul. He stayed behind to support us.
Let’s talk about your first morning after you won gold medal. How did it start when you first woke up, looked at the dresser and saw your medal? Did you think it was all a dream?
Berestov: Actually, I’ve had many mornings like this. [both laughing] To be honest with you I couldn’t really fall asleep because I was so emotionally charged my tooth began to hurt! After coming home to Moscow, when all the hype has gone down I remember waking up, seeing my medal hanging on the wall and thinking “I am an Olympic Champion.”
[end of Part 1]
Klokov: Dima now you know what it’s like to become an Olympic Champion. What did this title give you?
Berestov: It’s very hard to say. The life’s changed drastically. Some good things happened, some bad things happened…
Klokov: Sorry to interrupt… Many say that it gives a guaranteed way to a good lifestyle. Is this so?
Berestov: I can agree with this in part. People start to listen to you. I suppose because of it I have been appointed as a director of school but if I was just a regular athlete I don’t think it would have happened. And I am thankful that people have believed in me.
Klokov: Right now you have been the only Russian Olympic champion from 2000-2013, do you feel your own importance because of it?
Berestov: I think each athlete has a lot of egoism. When you’re an Olympic champion and you have realized that you’ve won, you’re the only one. Even when I was training I wanted to go to Beijing, London, it was my dream and the feeling of being an Olympic champion was “fresh”, but I didn’t get to go and because of that, if I may be honest, I didn’t want anyone else to become an Olympic champion. It was my wish at the time to remain the Olympic champion in 105kg category. I had these egotistical feelings within me at the time, but I want tihnk to that I have grown up since then. I have realized that the importance doesn’t lie within me, but rather in the sport of weightlifting.
Klokov: I remember that after the Athens Olympiad you got married and married a girl that you knew from high school. Since then you had a daughter, Vaselisa. First, I’d like to know how you managed to keep the relationship from high school to 2008 with your first wife.
Berestov: Dasha was my first love from school. Unfortunately we broke up after I committed myself to sport and I had other girlfriends since then. But after the Olympiad in Athens I came back to Moscow and we met up. I have to say that before the Olympics I did not give much thought to starting a family or get married because I didn’t have any financial base to start from, I didn’t have a salary or an apartment. However after becoming an Olympic championed I very quickly received a lot of support (e.g. money, car, and apartment) and this is when I realized that I didn’t have that special someone to share it with and the importance of having a family. This is the moment when Dasha came back into my life, she knew me and I knew her. I proposed and she accepted. Everything happened very quickly. However after the divorce we still remained friends, it didn’t work out because I realized we were different people.
Klokov: You have an Olympic gold, two kids, you have parents that are proud of you. But its interesting to ask: what are you most proud of in life? For example, Khadzhimurat Akkaev said that he is proud because his father is proud of him. I understood him because it was close to my heart because of my dad.
Berestov: I have to say that I’m proud for repaying my parents (by becoming an Olympic champion) after they have invested so much in me. I’m proud that everything happened the way I wanted it to happen in my life. I’m proud that I have a daughter and son.
Klokov: What is your biggest dream though?
Berestov: I’m thinking more about my family. I find more harmony in this and feel like a happy man right now.
Klokov: Right now you’re still continuing to train. Why didn’t you stop after reaching the pinnacle by becoming an Olympic champion?
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Berestov: I have a good friend that had an answer to this. When you keep doing the training, training camps, competitions… you’re prolonging your youthfulness and life. Every human wants to find his Oasis in life and prolong his life, and is willing to pay all kinds of money for it! For us, that Oasis is weightlifting. It brings great enjoyment and I just wanted to be involved in the sport. Right now I’m also training young weightlifters.
On His Positive Doping Test
Klokov: After the Athens, you have received a 2 year disqualification. Can you explain what happened?
Berestov: I wasn’t sure what happened at the time. Now I’m sure it’s because someone didn’t want me to win [translators note: backstabbing]. I can understand that every athlete who gets caught for doping says exactly that…
Klokov: What kind of technology did they use to do that, how is it possible? Akkaev also mentioned the same thing when he got caught for doping.
Berestov: Personally, I think that WADA and RUSADA are very commercial organizations, where people make money. There’s a lot of money and politics. RUSADA is more of a commercial venture while WADA is more political. They have a lot of power to do what they want and with whoever they want. At the time I wasn’t preparing for any competition. I didn’t even understand how it could have even happen, who might gain some sort of advantage from it? We had internal doping control come after the Olympics, and everyone was ready for it. At the time we even knew they were coming. After some time I received notice that I got caught. Of course for me this was a tragedy and I didn’t expect it. Because of that my weightlifting journey was severely disrupted. In 2008 I wanted to come out from disqualification to participate in Russian Championships and Olympics, but there was no transparency within Russian weightlifting organization and I got the gist that I wasn’t wanted.
Klokov: The way I remember it, during the 2 year disqualification you wanted to gain weight to be a competitive superheavy weight and participate in Beijing Olympics as a superheavy weight. You gained great performance and wanted to participate in European championships before the Olympics and you won it. Why did you go to European championships? Why not just prepare for the Russian National Championships?
Berestov: You’re not quite right. After I got caught by doping control I decided to become a superheavy weight. I tried for a year to gain weight but just couldn’t gain it and decided to stay in 105’s. I had great results, snatch 205kg (451lb) and cleaned 250kg (550lb) at a bodyweight of 108-109kg (237-239lb). I wanted to prepare for Russian Championships but I got told that I didn’t need to attend Russian Championships and needed to prepare for European Championships and that if I showed good result there, may be considered for selection for the Olympic Games. I can’t really say on camera into what kinds of situations I was put in, but I just couldn’t understand why I was preparing this way while others were preparing for other competitions, it wasn’t quite faire. I didn’t take it well psychologically. Your personal coach says one thing about preparation, but the head coach says totally opposite things. Because of this psychological breakdown I didn’t qualify but I got invited to work in a sports school which is what I did.
Klokov: In your opinion, at the time, was it fair for me and Lapikov to attend the Beijing Olympics?
Berestov: In my opinion it wasn’t quite fair because of double standards. When a head coach says to everyone that selection (for Beijing) will occur at the Russian championships….
Klokov: Rigert said that 430kg total (for 105kg) will be the total that qualifies you to attend training camp where you can start preparing for Olympic Games…
Berestov: I understand that however I received different information. In principle, there should have been transparency in communication where everyone knows which competition is the selection competition. If the selection competition is Russian championships and you’ve got first place, Lapikov, no problems here, second place, Glebb Pisarevskiy, third place, Dima Klokov. The way I understand it according to sporting principle is that first and second place winners are going to the Olympic Games, third place winner is a reserve. And because of that there were huge disagreements with Glebb. It doesn’t matter how your results were going, what kind of psychological troubles you’ve had previously…… [translator’s note: Berestov is directing this at Klokov, saying it was unfair for Klokov to attend Olympic Games in Beijing over Glebb Pisarevski, because clearly, it was stated that first and second place winners at the Russian championship are guaranteed to go]
Klokov: But do you think it’s not important? [To consider and take note of that an athlete had psychological problems leading up to the Russian Championship]
Berestov: The way I understand it is that whoever wins and second place are guaranteed to go, not “whoever wins and then we’ll decide on the others based on their results at the World Championship”. I heard this and knew it, because of that everyone was preparing for the Russian Championship. Because of this and to this moment, I think that Glebb Pisarevski should have gone to Olympics.
Klokov: Okay. Everyone has their own truth. Do you regret competing at the European championships because you were given such information?
Berestov: At the time If I went to the Russian Championship I wouldn’t have won it. I would have probably lifted 195/230, at the very maximum. It was more convenient to go to European Championships because of time it takes to get back peak performance. However I just think the selection was already decided half a year before the Olympic Games by Rigert, no disrespect to you or Rigert. It seemed like he already picked the team in advance. That’s just my opinion, you can agree with it or disagree. Despite this, I was still given a chance to show good result at European Championships where unfortunately I didn’t.
Klokov: If, like you say, Rigert did pick a team half a year before the Olympics… you have to admit that he was right after all in his selection?
Berestov: I guess…, but there’s a lot of questioning in his selection because he doesn’t select the team based on sporting principles (strictly by the results shown) but by double standard. This isn’t just my opinion but also of many other athletes. The opinion is that Rigert had his “favourites” – Klokov, Chigishev and these will be his first picks for the team, but other athletes get selected in accordance with the sporting principle, by result. A lot of people did not like this and now everyone is asking why is Rigert no longer a head coach of the team – well, because a lot of people didn’t agree with this.
Klokov: Alright, I understand that, you know though, you can’t really please everyone. My father was the president of Russian Weightlifting Federation, he didn’t do anything bad, he didn’t let people steal his own money, he built training bases and provided food, but he got dropped from the Federation regardless of this…
Berestov: I completely agree with you. Maybe it wasn’t head coach’s fault here. I always wanted for the Federation to be transparent and build a proper competition calendar where everyone knows which competition qualifies you for what.
Life After Weightlifting
Klokov: Let’s talk about a painful topic – what to do after you are finished with sport?
I don’t like to be the center of attentionBerestov: It’s very hard to enter normal life after you followed a structured plan of training preparation. First year was horrible for me. Being appointed as a director (read: boss) at school I didn’t want to upset anyone and you need to show that you’re able to work as a director, to show that you’re not the worst. You know how it goes… Oh, look they appointed an Olympic Champion and he just sits there with no brains and does nothing useful. I needed to show that I was able to do the work and it was stressful during the first year. If you want to go about where to go after the sport, I had a lot of people ask why I didn’t get involved in television (like Klokov has), but it’s because my character is different and I don’t like to be the center of attention.
Klokov: Someone has to do it…
Berestov: That’s why they have you! [laughing] You have to enjoy what you’re doing, I just don’t enjoy that type of work. I’m trying to make weightlifting more popular just through different channels, for example, school, parents, etc. “behind the scenes”. You have Dmitry Klokov who popularizes weightlifting through television, shows, etc. There’s an opinion that I’m against that kind of thing. I’m not, I’m all for it! If you have a guy with a beautiful body and good brains, everyone understands that he’s a weightlifter and popularity spreads that way. At the end of the day, we’re both fans of this sport. You and I always had different energy though; you’re more like an energy vampire and it’s hard being with you in the gym sometimes. There were moments where it was uncomfortable…
Klokov: *Does a scream* [Implying that his screaming before attempting a lift may be putting Berestov and other lifts off their lift]
Berestov: No its not that. Let me explain. We’re all training in the gym, you have Glebb Pisarevski who’s lifting 190kg for a double, noise and music everywhere, nobody cares, but then you have Dmitry Klokov who’s only lifting 160kg and everyone goes silent… The point I’m trying to make is that if you’re trying to make weightlifting popular through television don’t do it because YOU want to gain something from it, but do it for the sport. Don’t be an egoist.
Klokov: Yeah I understand what you’re saying. Despite our different ways, the end result is that we are both trying to make the sport more popular. I think we should get together and exchange ideas.
Now I just want to talk about something that you may not like. I know that you’re a kind person, but some people think that you’re only kind to those people that idolize you. If someone is a little distant to you, you seem to behave slightly different. This isn’t just my opinion but the opinion of other athletes as well. What can you say about this?
Berestov: Well, you know I can’t say that I’m kind to everyone… [laughing] I’d rather not leave a comment. I guess, if I consider someone who’s close to me then I am kind, but to be honest I haven’t really noticed any moments where I may have been unkind to someone.
Klokov: I remember we were talking in one of the rooms at the training camp. Everyone was there and you were brought up in the discussion. The guys said that you don’t like me very much. It was pretty much everyone’s opinion. Do you not like me?
Berestov: No, I don’t have any negative feelings towards you besides moments I mentioned above. I just didn’t like the situation between you and Lapikov, the situation above with Rigert and you… I just don’t like the energy that’s being produced by those situations.
[translator’s note: the situation between Klokov and Lapikov. Right now they’re friends, however Berestov briefly mentions that when Lapikov came into Klokov’s weight category a while back they become such competitors that their friendship suffered. Klokov admitted to this and said that it was his fault, due to his argumentative personality]
There was never been a situation where I said that I didn’t like Dmitry Klokov, in fact when my friends talk bad about you I try and defend you and say that you guys don’t even know him properly. I guess we’re just different people, but maybe it’s good that we’re bringing this up in the open, because yes, there’s a bit of tension/discomfort between us, but we agree to disagree in this regard. However it’s crazy to say that I have something against you.
Klokov: You know how I’m involved with Youtube now and how I post videos. The other day in the gym when I got there you said: “Here comes the star of Youtube”. Do you really think that I’m arrogant like that? To be honest, after doing it for 2.5 months I felt really positive about the whole thing and it gave me a chance to show other lifters to the world.
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Berestov: I don’t disagree, it is a positive thing. I think it’s more to do with the theme we’ve covered above with you popularizing yourself [instead of weightlifting]. I just don’t want fame to take over you and then you totally forget about weightlifting.
Klokov: [laughing] I can assure you that it won’t happen. Weightlifting is in my family.
Berestov: Yeah I understand. I guess when I mentioned you being a Youtube star it’s just my way of giving you sh*t and to let you know that at the end of this whole fame there’s still weightlifting.
Klokov: I remember in the gym I tried to film you and you told me to leave! [laughing]
Berestov: [laughing] You know I was probably just lifting small weights it’s not that interesting…
Klokov: For a lot of people, I’d say 80%, for them it is very interesting to know that Dmitry Berestov is STILL alive. They are very interested in seeing even smaller weights!
Okay, another question is where do the guys go, who would like to become like Berestov and Klokov? Why doesn’t the federation give support to these athletes?
On the Russian Weightlifting Federation
Berestov: I agree there are a lot of problems. If we compare the work of Federation years back to now, right now it’s still better. I have said in an interview that Federation needs to listen to the athletes and not regard them as enemies who are going to take over the Federation later down the track, but rather work together with athletes.
Klokov: I think they’re trying to push you away because you’re a real threat to them and their positions in the future. Maybe that’s why they’re cautious?
Berestov: I can feel that too, but I have to say that I never had these kinds of intentions, to throw someone off their position in the Federation, to become a president – I never had these thoughts.
Klokov: So you’re saying you’ve never had thoughts of becoming the president of Russian Federation and become the head coach?
Berestov: No I never had such thoughts of becoming a head coach, etc. I can admit that I am very “green” [to the coaching process], I need more experience and because of that I very openly offered my services to the president of Federation and others so I could gain experience since I find this work very interesting. After Rigert was let go of his coaching position and the head coaching position was filled. I wanted to become a coach of the junior National team – it wasn’t really a secret. But I never received a concrete reply about the whole thing. I find coaching very interesting, but I never want to cross anybody’s path in the process.
Klokov: Would you prefer to work with people that are currently operating in Federation?
Berestov: I don’t really mind. I just don’t understand why the Federation is pushing me away. The same thing happened with Lapikov, he helped to put those people into the Federation, but in the end he got pushed away as well. Maybe if these people hear this interview, maybe they’ll change their minds.
Klokov: I know that you’re preparing for the selection for the World Championships, is that right?
I won’t be preparing for selection competition for World ChampionshipsBerestov: I just want to relax everyone right now, I won’t be preparing for selection competition for World Championships. There’s a bit of double standard going on in terms of selection. We heard that based on the results from Russian Championships the selection will be made for World Championships, but if that’s the case even you wouldn’t have made it to the World Championship team, because you came third…
Klokov: I just tell everyone that I’m preparing for the President’s Cup….BUT I will be participating in the selection competition for the World Championships.
Berestov: Okay but listen… A. Ivanovich (Venkov) [translator’s note: I think this may be the current head coach of men’s team] told you “just compete”, but nobody knows about this… I just think it’s a bit unfair. In my situation, about 1.5 months ago when I was training with the team when A. Venkov approached me and asked me to compete at the selection competition and If I won I would go to the World Championships, this gave me a lot of motivation. I was training really hard for it, did 190kgx2 in snatch, easy CJs on 220kg…, but then I was disregarded for selection. Venkov could have rang me himself and informed me about this change in situation and tell me that I wasn’t considered as one of possible athletes for the team. I had to find out from other people. Anyway I rang him up and he explained the situation to me – he said that I won’t be preparing for the World Champs, but if I wanted to make the Russian team [translator’s note: maybe for next year?] I need to participate in Russian Cup and Presidents Cup.
Klokov: Well I hope the audience found this interview interesting and I think we’ve covered some topics that both of us wanted to talk about…
Berestov: Hold on, you didn’t give me the opportunity to talk about my second wife! Otherwise my second wife will say to me “Why did you only talk about the first wife?!” [laughing]
Klokov: How did you meet her?
Berestov: I was travelling to Israel for the tournament and she worked as a stewardess on the plane. Thanks to my friend we met. I told my friend I like this woman and my friend said to the her “Excuse me, do you know that this man is an Olympic Champion?” And she was somewhat unimpressed and said “Oh yeah, so what?” [laughing]. And from that moment on we kept talking and seeing each other, then got married. It’s difficult for her while I’m training for competitions, but Margarita’s very supportive. I’m very happy to be with her and we have a boy and a girl together.
[1 hour 15 minutes]
On Different Training Camps
Also, I’d like to raise another topic. I didn’t really like the conversation between you and Akkaev when you were talking about good and not so good training bases. I didn’t think the question was right, in my opinion there’s no good or bad training base…
Klokov: What about training base in Sochi – is it the best base?
Berestov: No …the training hall isn’t very good there. If they fix it, it’ll be one of the best.
Klokov: Okay what about Taganrog?
Berestov: Well…I just wanted to say that each of those bases have pluses and minuses…. I just don’t think you can say one is bad or another is good… Akkaev said he didn’t like one training base because he had to walk from hotel to training base…
Klokov: It’s inconvenient!
Berestov: You could say that, but c’mon I think it’s a huge plus…If it’s that inconvenient let’s put some carts there so you can drive them to training [laughing] I just think it’s a bit absurd. A lot of athletes said that walking to training is a plus, because when if living quarters and training were situated in the same building and you come down stairs to train after a sleep and are still sleepy it’s very hard to train. In Taganrog there’s also pluses and minuses – very good food but also very hot in the gym…
Klokov: Dima the question was what kind of training base YOU consider to be good or bad…
Berestov: I understand, everyone has their own opinions on it..
Klokov: I’m the opposite, I like to come downstairs and train. I like that there’s a very good medical centre where you can get good treatment for injuries. Right now I have a sore bicep, and just like you I also have a sore hip… Is your hip still sore??
Berestov: No… [both laughing]
Klokov: Okay thank you and I appreciate you coming to give the interview. I’m still waiting for Misha Koklyaev, but people are saying he injured himself and didn’t compete at World Championships. I think the next person for the interview will be Oksana Slivenko!