Here you will learn some more the about Elena, the kind
and gentle person that lives inside this great gymnast
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
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
Before international competitions and national championships
she trains and lives in the National Training center,
which is not too far from Moscow.
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.
fond of Svetlana
Khorkina and Elena Produnova, Elena seems
closest to Anastasia Kolesnikova, Ksenia Kekkonen
and Julia Khorkina when she is at Round Lake.
(Katya) Lobaznyuk is currently her room mate at
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.
... 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
Elena discussing strategy with her
Elena's mother, Irina
Nikolayevna, is a housewife, although she has learned
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.
... Elena is a highly sociable girl,
well liked by almost anybody ...
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 doesn't have much spare
time to spend in active leisure ...
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
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.
Detsl, the current star of Russian's
rap/hip-hop style, chatting with Elena.
... Elena is like one of their own
children to her coaches ...
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.
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.
... a gymnasts' life is tough, tiring,
and seems to be under complete control ...
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
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.
... daily practice is needed for
any gymnast ...
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
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
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.
... this is when training gets tough,
and Elena is being prepared to achieve the almost impossible
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
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
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
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.
... she is in command ...
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
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
... how she thinks about herself
and other gymnasts ...
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.
... she is certainly one of the
'hottest items' in gymnastics right now ...
Elena and her trainer, looking proud
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
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)
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.
... will she continue the tradition
of Olympic Reserve School 33? ...
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
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
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