Israel’s Myakinin: ‘I Can Compete Seriously in Future Competitions with the Strongest Gymnasts’

Written by John Crumlish for International Gymnast Online

Friday, January 1, 2021

Israeli gymnast Alexander Myakinin’s celebratory roar at the European Championships in Mersin last month was a worthy outburst after the steady presence and progress he demonstrated in previous competitions over the past two years.

Myakinin’s score of 14.200 in the horizontal bar final in Mersin earned him a satisfying bronze medal, behind gold medalist Robert Tvorogal of Lithuania (14.800) and silver medalist Tin Srbic of Croatia (14.600). The achievement is the best yet for the Russia-born Myakinin, who began representing Israel in 2018.

Born February 22 1995, in Moscow, Myakinin trained and competed in his native country before making his international debut for Israel at the 2018 Ukrainian International Cup. He lives and trains in Netanya, where he is coached by Sergey Vaisburg and Andrey Gribanov.

Myakinin’s pre-Mersin accolades for Israel include bronze medals on pommel horse and horizontal bar at the 2019 Challenger Cup of Koper, Slovenia; bronze on horizontal bar at the 2019 Challenge Cup of Szombathely, Hungary; and fifth place on horizontal bar at the 2019 Challenge Cup of Paris. Early last year and prior to pandemic-mandated quarantine, he finished sixth on horizontal bar at the World Cup of Melbourne.

In this International Gymnast Online interview, the earnest Myakinin reflects on his gymnastics past and details his aspirations for 2021.

IGO: Prior to Mersin, what did you think of your chances to earn a berth to the Tokyo Olympic Games? And what do you think about your chances now?

AM: For me there remains only one chance to get to the Olympics in Tokyo – through the all-around at the European Championships in 2021. Of course, I will try to make use of this chance. In terms of getting to the Olympics, high bar does not need reinforcement. It is necessary to increase the difficulty and achieve good performances on the other apparatuses of the all-around.

IGO: What did finishing one place behind (2017 world champion and 2019 world silver medalist) Tin Srbic in Mersin show you in terms of your potential to challenge the best gymnasts for a medal?

AM: Back in 2019, at a (Challenge Cup) competition in Paris, in qualifications I was very close to Tin – I lost by only 0.10. Despite the fact that in the final I failed to show my best performance, already in Paris I realized that I could compete with the best gymnasts in the world. Since then, I have added more elements to my routine. I will continue to work hard to make more progress, and I believe that I can compete seriously in future competitions with the strongest gymnasts.

IGO: A higher Difficulty score might have given you a chance at silver in Mersin. What plans do you have for improving your difficulty for 2021?

AM: At my disposal I already have a more complex routine with a D-score of 6.3, but it is still not stable enough and not good enough in execution. I will try to bring it to the required level and possibly strengthen it even more.

IGO: Israel has been better known for its individual performances on specific apparatuses. What do you think is needed for your team to have depth across all six apparatuses?

Alexander Myakinin during the high bar final at the 2020 European Championships in Mersin

AM: This is a very difficult process. It cannot be achieved in a short time. Israel has a fairly young system of children’s sports. There is an insufficient number of gyms, coaches and gymnastics specialists. Provided that the young generation, both coaches and athletes, is properly developed and supported, Israel has excellent chances to create a strong team. There are already many young, promising gymnasts who are ready to join the senior team and strengthen it. I am sure that we may well achieve serious team tasks already in the next Olympic cycle. If we are talking about the top level, then the entire gymnastics system in Israel requires growth, expansion and support.

IGO: What steps did you take to start competing for Israel?

AM: I moved to Israel because I felt that I had not fully realized my potential in the sport. But in Russia I could not match the competition and could not qualify for the national team. Since there are Jews in my family, according to the laws of Israel, I have the right to repatriation, and I used this right. My whole family lives in Russia; I moved alone.

IGO: Since you began competing for Israel, you have earned your best results on pommel horse and horizontal bar. How do you view yourself at this point, in terms of what you wish to accomplish as an all-arounder or what you feel you can best contribute to the team score?

AM: I still continue to train all-around. I have never been a strong all-arounder, and injuries exacerbate the situation. I underwent three knee surgeries. I consider all-around as the chance to qualify for the Olympics and the opportunity to help the team in team competition.

IGO: How did you celebrate Hanukkah?

AM: This year Hanukkah started on December 10. We were at the European Championships. Therefore, there was no strong holiday. We lit the first candle, read a prayer and returned to our rooms. When we returned to Israel, I immediately bought traditional donuts called sufganiyot and ate them with my girlfriend.

IGO: How are you welcoming the new year?

AM: Now in Israel is the third lock-down, so I will spend it together with my girlfriend in the apartment. We will call our parents and friends on Skype, and exchange gifts and congratulations.

IGO: What is your New Year’s resolution?

AM: My New Year’s resolution is not to betray myself, and to take care of my loved ones.

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