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28 July 2021 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Interview with Ekaterinburg’s second FISU Games ambassador

Angelika Timanina has all the most prestigious awards in synchronized swimming, including gold at the Kazan 2013 Universiade, is a member of the Russian surfing team, a budding TV host, and now an ambassador of the 2023 FISU World University Games. It seems that nothing is impossible for her. Is that so? Ekaterinburg 2023 press office shares this exclusive interview.


Angelika, allow us to congratulate you on your appointment as an ambassador of the FISU Games in Ekaterinburg. As the first order of business, we can't help but ask you, as a participant of the Kazan 2013 Universiade, what did that performance mean to the team?

Thank you very much! You know, our team has always had a strict condition - to never lose a single competition. We always feel a tremendous responsibility, regardless of the tournament level. The coach was telling us at the time that there will be many strong opponents and that we need to put more work in, train, and to be ten heads and shoulders ahead. We went there with the attitude to fight for victory.


Sometimes not everything is up to preparedness and attitude. Equipment can let you down sometimes...

Yes. The music cut off during our performance in Kazan, and it was a big trial for the team. We could not stop because that would deduct from our score, and we would have lost. I am not entirely sure how it happened, but our team, without sharing a word, mobilized. You see, it is extremely difficult for eight people to do something synchronously in silence. Half the girls were underwater, and we could not communicate. I remember that we all were really scared but nobody stopped, and we continued in silence. I remember the stadium began beating the music's rhythm, which helped us finish the performance. The whistle sounded, we got out of the water, and we were told that we will now have to do it all over again. I was already beginning to lose consciousness by that time.


Famously, that performance was two, if not three, times more trying for you personally.

It so happened that I got sick on the eve of the competition and had to perform with a 40 degrees fever. I felt horrible. We do not have any replaceable spots, so not performing was not an option. Finishing a performance in our sport is like running a marathon. With a fever of 40 I could not physically run another marathon.


Nonetheless, you went out the second time.

Yes. I remember standing right before the entrance. Remember being given smelling salts and told: "Angelika, you must. There is no other option." I remember a few times during the performance when I began losing consciousness. But there was also the fear that I did not have the right to make a mistake, I could not let the team and the country down. The stadium was full, everyone was cheering us on, and I could not faint.




An event like this changes people. Has it changed you?

After that, I realized that anything is possible. A person has limitless potential, and all the barriers are in your head. I didn't even attend the medal ceremony. Still, I am very proud of myself as I have seen all of it through even though it was really hard and scary.


Let us talk about more positive experiences in Kazan. What was the most memorable?

The Athletes' Village has definitely left a great impression. Many young people of my age. It was amazing to meet familiar athletes from across the globe. I lived in Moscow and studied at the Olympic College, and many guys at the Village did as well. It was a real celebration of student life.


You came to Kazan 2013 Universiade after the Olympic Games in London and can compare the two.

Yes! Everyone, who has attended at least a single ceremony at the London Olympics, was absolutely delighted. Emotions were very comparable. Although the level of tension in Kazan was slightly lower. The atmosphere was a bit more relaxed. That I definitely remember! I do have to mention the overall support from the stands. We have not experienced anything like that anywhere else in the world or at other competitions. That was, most likely, the first time we realized what support of our fans and our people truly means. That was the first time we felt the support of our country and it was amazing!


You have graduated from the Ural Federal Pedagogical University with a distinction. At the same time you were studying, you trained in Moscow and actively performed all around the world. Why did you choose that particular university?

I had the option to study in Moscow. But I am a big patriot of my native land. I love Ekaterinburg and have many things connecting me to it. I have decided to attend and graduate from a university in Ekaterinburg. Studying in my native city was a big priority for me.


How hard was combining studies and a sporting career?

That was another important point in choosing a university. In our sport, it is very hard to do everything. We train 10-12 hours a day, effectively with no weekends. Some exceptions can only be made in the case of exams or thesis defence. I had a good relationship with the university and an understanding with my teachers. My thesis defence fell on an Olympics year. I would fly in and work through my studies whenever I could. The fact that I chose a major linked to my activities was a great help. It would probably be impossible had I chosen a different direction. I had a general understanding and only had to learn theory and pass the exams. I flew in for my thesis defence right after the Olympics. I was studying very seriously for it and successfully passed it.


Are there any outstanding places in your native city that you recommend guests of the Games to visit?

I really enjoy taking walks in Ekaterinburg's centre. It is filled with parks and squares. Many places have a very developed infrastructure and are beautiful and pleasant to be at. Ever since childhood, I have really loved Plotinka. For me, it is a special place. It is always filled with people taking walks. There is a spirit of movement and celebration. Something is always happening there. I have to mention my native district - Uralmash. Again, it is connected to my childhood - the swimming pool and the school I went to are there. And the "White Tower". Architecture enthusiasts will appreciate it.


And in the region?

I am in complete awe of the Museum of Military and Automotive Equipment in Verkhnyaya Pyshma. It is very stunning. It is on par with the world museums. Apart from equipment, there is a floor with military awards and medals. I was so amazed by them, that I have designed my own jewelry collection inspired by what I have seen. And it was a success!


Bringing our conversation to a close, what would you wish to the competitors and guests of the 2023 World University Games in Ekaterinburg?

To spectators, I wish to enjoy this celebration. It is really great that it will be held in my native city. To competitors, of course, I wish victories. We are all striving towards the same goal - a gold medal. I want to wish everyone to get their gold medal. Be it in studies or in sports. I wish everyone to keep striving for their goal and to achieve results - it is vital. The most important is to believe, keep going forward and never give up.


Original article by Ekaterinburg 2023