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Russia Removes Alexandrov as Women's Head Coach
(9 votes, average 4.56 out of 5)

The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced. Pictured: Alexandrov and two-time Olympian Ksenia Afanasyeva

The coaching council of the Russian Gymnastics Federation voted Monday to remove Alexander Alexandrov as head coach of the women's team, Russian media announced.

Alexandrov told a news agency that the move was purely spiteful, and he claims federation vice president Andrei Rodionenko manipulated the vote.

"The decision was not the federation's, but came from Andrei and Valentina Rodionenko," he said. "They gathered coaches who they could control. And we didn't have any freedom for each person to sit and say what he thinks, because he will be punished. All the others were just sitting there silent."

The Russian federation has not yet released a statement on the reasons Alexandrov will be replaced or who will take his job.

The unexpected vote came nearly four years after Alexandrov initially returned to revitalize Russia's struggling women's program. Russia, the once dominant power in gymnastics, was shamefully shut out of the medals at the 2008 Olympic Games. Under Alexandrov's guidance, the team stunned the defending champion U.S. squad to take the gold at the 2010 World Championships in Rotterdam.

Aliya Mustafina — who had been debating quitting the sport until Alexandrov took her under his tutelage — became an outright star in Rotterdam, winning the individual all-around title and four other medals. An injury to Mustafina kept her out of the 2011 Worlds, but Russia took the team silver and won individual golds from Viktoria Komova (uneven bars) and Ksenia Afanasyeva (floor exercise).

Shut out in Beijing, the Russian women won six medals in London: one gold, two silvers and three bronzes. Mustafina won the most medals of any gymnast, with the gold on uneven bars, team silver, and bronzes in the all-around and floor exercise. Komova took second all-around, while Maria Paseka won the vault bronze.

Alexandrov has been one of the world's most prominent coaches for three decades. In 1983, his pupil Dmitry Bilozerchev took the gymnastics world by storm, becoming the world champion at 16. After coaching the Soviet women from 1988-1992, Alexandrov moved to Texas where he had been working at various clubs before returning to Russia four years ago.

To date, Alexandrov is the only personal coach to to guide both male and female gymnasts to world all-around titles. He said he is unsure if he will stay in Russia to coach Mustafina, who has indicated she wants to continue competing.

"I do not know whether or not I will stay to coach Aliya," he said. "We will have to see. They told me that now I'm her personal trainer, and the head coach will be different."

Comments (8)add comment

Mary2.0 said:

Can't handle success?
Wow. This one's a shocker. With all of the success that Russia's had with Alexandrov, why stop now? Who has the resume to even challenge this man for the head coach position? This seems like a very bad move on Russia's part Just as the team is getting back to winning medals, they remove the man who has had a lot to do with it. Doesn't make much sense so far. I wonder what the other side will say...
September 24, 2012
Votes: +10

Rachel T said:

What an insult
What a slap in the face to Alexandrov. I believe his comments to be quite accurate as well, in which no one wanted to speak up for fear of being punished. He was an enormous part of Russia's comeback. Now with the slap in the face, he should consider coming back to the United States, where we would appreciate his talent.
September 24, 2012
Votes: +8

DowisK said:

I am greatly saddened to hear about Alexsandr being removed as head coach, he helped revitalize the Russian Program and should be kept on as the head coach. He is an amazing coach and has proved that time and time again.
September 24, 2012
Votes: +5

Catya said:

A bad move
So can Aleksandrov remains as Aliya's personal coach? The saddest thing is that this situation seems to be all politiking and personal influence. A pity.

God luck, Aleksandrov.
September 25, 2012
Votes: +3

Woodie said:

Would love to see him come back to the US
September 26, 2012
Votes: +4

Gaurav Dubay said:

This decision is one of the worst made by the Russians. Russia had a very successful games and I cannot think of a reason to get rid of him. I thought he would have been able to mentor younger coaches too.

Oh well - I doubt the Russian revolution will continue for much longer - welcome back to boring gymnastics!

September 27, 2012
Votes: +4

Mindi Kruse said:

After all that Alexander Alexandrov has done, not just for Russia, but for his athletes I am just stunned. He was basically cajoled to come back to coach the Russian team because they knew he'd be successful. What a tragedy for such a wonderful coach. It's so hard to see a good person be used by a lot of the gymnastics community and not get much back for it. He's helped so many Russian, American and I believe even South American athletes at different clubs only to turn around and have his job taken away by jealousy or greed. Alexander if you are reading this I am truly sorry because you have brought us some of the most magnificent routines I have ever seen and I know the athletes you coach stand by you.
September 27, 2012
Votes: +4

Beth Segal said:

Love his coaching
It is always hard to know what goes on in the gym, but one of the things that I have observed about Alexandrov is his supportive relationship with his gymnasts. They genuinely seem to like him and don't seem bullied by him.
September 29, 2012
Votes: +1

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