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Elena's profile, life, chances


... Here you will learn some more the about Elena, the kind and gentle person that lives inside this great gymnast ... 

Elena, ever so young, already a professional athlete


Elena and her trainer work as a pair

Elena and her trainer work as a pair, they depend on each other

Elena lives an intense and serious life, fully dedicated to gymnastics, very much similar to the life of any other professional athlete.

If only gymnastics is like any other sport, which it isn't, because it's top performers are so much younger, often children still.
Gymnastics puts the greatest demands on body and spirit as well, and in order to be successful in it, you need to start at a very young age, which is exactly what Elena did.

When she was a small child, nobody could dream she would be Olympic Champion one day. Perhaps she even had to quit gymnastics, as she was diagnosed with a serious heart condition when little. Fortunately, a counter examination proved there was nothing wrong with her, so Elena continued and grew into what she is today.

The demands of gymnastics are such that you need to practice it every day, a gymnasts' life is ruled by her sport.

Elena is always on the move, traveling between home, her base at the Olympic Reserve School, Round Lake (the National Training Center outside Moscow), and other addresses, like her trainers', because of the demands of Olympic level gymnastics.

Not to forget the competitions and training stages, both inside and outside of Russia, she needs to attend. This demanding schedule occupies her and her trainers almost completely, but they are prepared to sacrifice to help Elena reach for the top.

Normally, she trains daily in her home gym, which is close to where she lives. The gym is small, but fully equipped.

When training in Moscow Elena often trains at Dynamo Sports club, or in the gymnastics hall under the Olympic Stadium, which have a full size floor area, and are properly heated during the coldest and darkest months of winter.

Before international competitions and national championships she trains and lives in the National Training center, which is not too far from Moscow.


Elena has many friends, she is never lonely


Elena has many friends, especially amongst the younger gymnasts.

Because Elena is a Muscovite, she often competed alongside her friends Liudmila Ezhova, Elvira Almieva and Julia Korostelyova in regional competitions.

Elena and her Moscow team mates




Although fond of Svetlana Khorkina and Elena Produnova, Elena seems closest to Anastasia Kolesnikova, Ksenia Kekkonen and Julia Khorkina when she is at Round Lake.

Elena and some of her friends from Round Lake


Ekaterina (Katya) Lobaznyuk is currently her room mate at Round Lake.

Although Ekaterina is of different character, the girls seem to get along just fine, even though they are direct competitors often.

When the girls are away on a competition together, they usually share the hotel room as well.

Elena and Ekatarina sharing a tender moment


Elena, living an ordinary girls' life as much as possible

... compared to some other gymnasts, Elena is lucky because she is from Moscow. She can visit her parents, her friends more easily than most other gymnasts ...


Elena and her trainer

Elena discussing strategy with her trainer

Elena's mother, Irina Nikolayevna, is a housewife, although she has learned for teacher.

Elena's father is named Mikhail Aleksandrovich, he was a Major in the Russian army. Elena, although looking more like her mother, takes after her father by character, so he must have been a brave and handsome man. He was involved in the clean up of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in a front row position. He got contaminated with radiation, and was slowly killed because of radiation inflicted diseases. On April 25 he passed away, with his heroic efforts almost completely forgotten in current Russia.

Elena attended ordinary school (Moscow Srednaya #22), and has finished her final (11th) grade of intermediate level general education with excellent results, allowing her entry into the prestigious "Lesgaft" Sports University in St Peterburg, where she will start her study for trainer.
Elena has hardly has seen the classroom, she studied in the evenings at Round Lake all by herself, which gives you some idea of how serious and dedicated Elena is.

Elena has already started her studies, which will take her five years until graduation. The initial courses and schedule aren't very demanding, as she already is a highly experienced gymnast herself. Since she is considered an "external" student, she doesn't live at the campus, mostly she studies at home, and only takes exams in St Peterburg.

She is learning English in some small amount of spare time left over.

Currently, she is looking forward to taking driving lessons, and quite likes the new challenge put to her.


Friends, pets, Elena very much appreciates company

... Elena is a highly sociable girl, well liked by almost anybody ...


Elena has no brothers and sisters, and since her trainers think of her as their adopted third daughter, Elena is very close with Anna and Julia Pivovarova, and their niece Yana Maslennikova.

Her dearest human friend is indeed Julia Pivovarova, who is about Elena's age, and has been with Elena for her entire gymnastics career. Julia is an important asset for Elena, a true friend of the heart. Julia and Elena want to start their studies in sports and physical culture at the St Petersburg institute of sports together, although Julia prefers studying choreography over gymnastics.

Elena loves animals, dogs especially. She has bought herself a new dog, Ashley, again a Yorkshire terrier, after her previous dog John got lost while Elena was away from home. John was a gift from her coach when Elena won a medal at vaulting in the 1996 Europeans, and Elena was very sad over his disappearance.

Elena and Julia having fun

    a young Elena (left) having fun with Julia (right) on the fairground.


Favorite food, pastime, music, occupations

... Elena doesn't have much spare time to spend in active leisure ...


Elena's favorite food is fish, she likes ice-cream and chocolate very much as well.

In her spare time, Sundays mostly, friends and relatives sometimes visit Elena in Round Lake. When in Moscow, Elena can relax at home, and spend some leisure time with her family, friends and pets. Her hobbies include collecting porcelain miniatures and figurines, besides the gymnastics pins and stuffed animals every gymnast collects. Her talisman is Puch ("Pooh"), a small bear-like figure.

Sportive pastime activities are roller skating, swimming outdoors when the weather allows, or in the heated pool at Round Lake. Passive sports interests include watching rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, diving and figure skating, artistic sports which relate to gymnastics, and in which Russia is amongst worlds' best.

Elena likes reading youth and girls' magazines, and of course likes sharing the stories, gossip and fantasies while socializing with her friends in the gym. She likes to listen to music too, by preference in her own language, so she can sing along.

Currently, she is a great fan of Russia's Eminem epigon, a young hip-hop/rap artist named "Detsl". Elena once went to a concert, and was allowed backstage, to have her Detsl discs autographed.

English language bands she likes are Backstreet Boys and Offspring. She likes to watch movies with her friends once in a while.

Boys do not play an important role in Elena's life right now, she is just good friends with most of the young male gymnast at Round Lake. She is enjoying the attention of male gymnasts at post meet parties and banquets, just like any normal teenage girl. She has boundless energy on the dance floor, capable on dancing all night long.

Elena with Detsl

    Detsl, the current star of Russian's rap/hip-hop style, chatting with Elena.


Elena, living a gymnasts' life, guided by her coaches

... Elena is like one of their own children to her coaches ...


Elena started with gymnastics when she was 6 years old, she has always been with her current trainers since.
They are Nadezhda Viktorovna Maslennikova, who herself has been a USSR Master of Sport in gymnastics.

Her husband, Sergei Nikolayevich Pivovarov, was a USSR Master of Sport in swimming, which clearly shows in his big stature. Now he is a Honored Trainer in Artistic Gymnastics, like his wife. Sergei unfortunately passed away on Friday, March 29, 2002. He was only 45 years, and will be dearly missed by his wife, daughters, family and friends.

Together they did operate and run the Olympic Reserve School #33 like a hospitable family. Literally, as this actually means they have to take care of everything, every day. All duties: maintenance of the building and the apparatus, administration of the school and its pupils. Plus all housekeeping duties, including cooking for the gymnasts.
This is an Olympic Reserve school, so the children live at home and have as much of a normal life a possible during the week, with a daily training session after school is finished. In the weekends training gets serious, they spend the whole weekend in the school sometimes. They are training of course, but also playing and having fun, watching TV and living in their tiny den, and sleeping in a small bedroom when necessary. Occasionally, when the situation at a gymnasts' home gets difficult, the gym is also a safe haven for a child in need of consolement and emotional rest. Life in Russia isn't exactly easy for most common people, and Elena's life is no exception to this rule.

Elena showing off in her gym

    Elena showing off in her gym ...




All girls, including Elena, are assigned their chores, like buying groceries, cleaning the dishes, sweeping the floor, etc. They all need to take their turns, no exceptions, no favorites, these are collective efforts, and Elena likes to take part in them.

Also a lot of parents are involved, and when the school or one of its pupils has done well, there always is a barbeque and sleep in party afterwards.

When there is some money left over by the end of year, the elites usually take a week off, and spend a short holiday abroad.

Elena on vacation in Dubai (UAR)

    Elena enjoying her 1998 vacation in Dubai


Elena, living close to the edge, exploring her limits

... a gymnasts' life is tough, tiring, and seems to be under complete control ...


Elena receives some new leotards

Elena pleased and grateful with some new leotards she received, March 1999.

Under the spartan living conditions of the National Training Center at Round Lake outside of Moscow, there aren't much diversions for young adolescents like Elena. Besides each others company, television, books and computer games, life there is monotonous and boring, especially during the dark and cold winter months.

During daylight hours, Elena hardly has time to get bored, because in the highly competitive training atmosphere of the National Training Center, she is worked out to her limits of endurance and emotional capacity. Along with the rest of Russia's gymnastics elite she is gathered there for several months per year, to assemble the teams which represent Russia abroad in the most important competitions.

Elena herself works for about 8 hours a day, 6 days per week, living the life of a professional athlete proper. A two hour conditioning session and two three hours gymnastics sessions constitute her daily routine, along with three hot meals and an afternoon nap. She rises at 6.30, and goes to sleep at 22.00, most of her off hours are spend resting and relaxing.

Now that she has achieved the highest rank in gymnastics, Olympic Champion, she is allowed to train to her own schedule, plan and timetable. A great privilege she shares with Svetlana Khorkina.


For Elena, not a single day goes by without training

... daily practice is needed for any gymnast ...


Elena in March 1999

Elena, March 1999.

Day by day Elena works on her condition and rehearses her routines, perhaps at a lower intensity when there are no competitions due.

There is hardly a day without gymnastics, even when no apparatus are around she keeps working on her condition and flexibility using basic exercises and household furniture.

According to the Russian philosophy of gymnastics, there can be no lapses, for it is considered a requirement for a gymnast to keep 'in touch' with the apparatus on a daily basis to maintain a basic level.

Over decades the Soviet Union has perfected its training methods in all kinds of sports by scientific studies and experiments. Russia is now reaping the benefits of these experiences.


Elena, being lifted to a higher level, being periodized

... this is when training gets tough, and Elena is being prepared to achieve the almost impossible ...


Elena posing, August 1999

Elena in her gym, August 1999.

Before Europeans, Worlds or Olympics, Elena is training in Round Lake full time, under the scrutinizing eyes of a whole training staff. Sometimes for weeks on end without interruption, according to a scientifically proven schedule of grueling performance training and physical conditioning called periodisation, she is physically and mentally prepared to represent Russia.

Elena is closely looked after by medical staff, for her health is her most important asset. Imagine the havoc an injury or bout of flue could have on her, and Russia's, chances! Besides doctors and physicians, there are steam baths, physiotherapists and massagists at the gymnasts' disposal, to keep them sound and fit in body and mind.

The accent lies on perfecting the routines while at the same time raising Elena's base condition well above the level required. Training at the highest level humanly possible is used to make Elena strong and resilient, to improve her physical condition and working off excess weight (which means body fat) when necessary.
Internal competitions following in regular order are used to monitor her progress, competitive spirit, and resistance to fatigue and stress. Careful dieting and strict eating habits keep her at her optimum weight, until competition starts every detail of her life seems to be under complete control.

At her physical peak now, there usually is a Russian Nationals or Russian Cup, about 7 weeks before the actual event. Elena takes part in the final selection in this competition. When she's made it, a slightly lower training intensity allows her body to adjust by developing the necessary lean mass, and hopefully she will retain this higher condition level until competition actually starts. For her own safety, Elena will utilize herself in competition only at about 80% of what she is physically capable of, knowing there will always be some reserves left in her.

This is the main advantage of having used a periodisation scheme: because their condition is still above the required level, gymnasts don't compete at their maximum, a sensible safety precaution if you want to have a long and healthy career.


Elena knows exactly what she is doing

... she is in command ...


Elena in August 2000

Elena in August 2000

Due to the demands on bone structure, musculature, joints and metabolism during the build-up phase, Elena can be periodized (i.e. peaked) only twice a year, without sustaining permanent damage to her still developing body.

Due to the nature and intensity of their daily training, gymnasts are vulnerable to specific injuries related to stress and overload. Especially the cartilage and ligaments in shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles are vulnerable to overload, resulting in irritation and possible inflammation. Vulnerable also are tendons' attachments to the skeletal parts, problems here could result in ruptures and other crippling injuries. Back problems are also often occurring in gymnasts, esp. in the lower back and loin area. Gymnastics calls for great flexibility in the spinal column.

Although, due to the repeated pounding, gymnasts generally have a higher bone density than normal people, stress- and hairline fractures in the tubular bones of lower arms and legs like shin splints do occur. Because induced by training, these injuries heal with time and rest of course, but these commodities are very rare with competitive gymnasts. So they should better be avoided by all means, and can be prevented a little by taping and bandaging of ankles and wrists during part of the build-up phase.

Elena knows she takes a certain calculated risk with her health and safety, but she also knows she is in good care, and her rewards outweigh her sacrifices. Make no presumptions here, gymnastics at this level isn't exactly easy on the body of a gymnast. All gymnasts, Elena included, have to deal with constant pain and discomfort because of their many small injuries induced by training and competing for 51 weeks out of 52 per year.

After those physically, and even more mentally, exhausting periodisation and training stages in Round Lake and the following intense competitions, Elena is of course glad she can retreat to the more secluded and familiar atmosphere of her own gym. Here she can rest and recover a little, heal her physical pains and small injuries, straighten out the mental dents and emotional scratches left from competition, and gain fresh energy for the next time.


Elena's view at the world of gymnastics

... how she thinks about herself and other gymnasts ...


Elena waving with flowers

Elena the 1999 Vault World Champion.

Back to Elena now, she likes to work all apparatus equal but she likes the vault and the floor exercise best of all.

Her favourite gymnasts are Ioannis Melissanidis (another great vaulter and tumbler, one of the few 'artistic' male tumblers), Aleksei Nemov and Aleksei Bondarenko for the men.

Female favorites are Lilia Podkopayeva, Svetlana Khorkina and Adrienn Varga.

Elena found it difficult to answer to a question posed to her what she would like to do when she could start her life anew. She can not imagine herself living a different kind of life, she is fully accustomed to her present life of gymnastics. A life, which, though often strenuous, also gives her lots of opportunities to travel and visit foreign countries, plus to earn some money for herself.

Given the hopes her trainers have for her, they try to motivate Elena to keep trying to reach just a little further every time, preparing Elena for the 2001 Code de Pointage, and future competitions ruled by it.

She isn't declining the idea of competing in the 2004 Olympic Games beforehand, but it remains to be seen she will last.


How the world looks at Elena

... she is certainly one of the 'hottest items' in gymnastics right now ...


Elena and her trainer

Elena and her trainer, looking proud and pleased.

After her Olympic adventure, where she lived through the complete spectrum of feelings and emotions, from troughs of utter despair up to peaks of joy and pleasure, she seems to have sort of re-invented herself personally.

She immediately was back into training, even on the day she arrived back home, sort of cleansing herself from the stains the Olympics left on her. She knew, when she committed herself straight away, she could advance to the number one position in Russian gymnastics.

In the European competitions following the Games, Elena was very relaxed and in complete command, both over her emotions, and over her gymnastics.

Also, the success and attention she received didn't seem to have spoiled her at all, she was just plain charming and adorable in her behavior towards the other contestants and she is being adored by many of them, plus she has a quickly growing share of fans and (male) admirers.

If Elena stays is this state of mind, is able to retain her great form and superb physical condition, is able to stay healthy and fit, we no doubt will be in for quite a treat in the coming year, enjoying Elena in many competitions.


Elena wants to follow in her trainer's footsteps

... will she continue the tradition of Olympic Reserve School 33? ...


Elena the Olympic Champion

Elena the 2000 Olympic Champion.

All these details from Elena's life, a gymnast as dedicated as there ever has been one, may seem cruel to people not accustomed to gymnastics at this level. However, for Elena and the other elites it is quite normal, she is treated no different than the others at the National Training Center.

Their lives are actually better than a large part of Russia's youth nowadays, for at least they get a fair chance to develop themselves and they get some decent prospects for the future.

Like has been proven in the past, and Russia and the USSR have had great successes in gymnastics, this is the only way to the top.

Elena said she wants to become a gymnastics trainer, a firm and definite wish for the young woman gymnast, but her coaches think she is smart enough to study for doctor.
Elena is already capable of some coaching duties, with the girls from her gym, for she knows them well. She already seems quite capable as a trainer, the result of her own upbringing in gymnastics.

Elena is fully aware of, and realistic over, her chances in gymnastics. We will have to wait for a while before we know for sure about her plans for the future, which for a large part depend on how she fares in gymnastics the first year under the new rules.

She fared well in the past, all things considered, it up to Elena now to decide over her future.

Slowly things are starting to turn in her favour, after a childhood and youth full of sacrifices, Elena is finally reaping some benefits.

Elena has received an order from President Vladimir Putin, April 2001, with it came some of the promised money for her Olympic medals, an apartment, and a military rank (!).

Because Elena's training expenses are partly financed by Army Sports Club, she is an officer in the Russian Army now, holding the rank of Lieutenant of the Border Guards. Her rank will provide her with basic social security such as lifelong free housing and transportation.

She is already planning her future, saving money for a car, her own apartment, its decoration and furniture, and anything else that comes with growing into an adult, wanting to start a life on her own.


... we hope you enjoyed these pages on Elena Zamolodchikova, Elena and her trainers cooperated and gave their authorization to OEG to present them as the authorized Elena Zamolodchikova website.

... Olympic EuroGym wishes to thank all the people involved with Elena, and of course wishes her the best of luck in her quest for personal fame and glory, and hopes she will win many medals, preferably Gold's!


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