So Nelli, could you tell us your backgrounds, who is Nelli Tsyshkevich?
I was born in Emanzhelinsk of Chelyabinsk region on April 20th, 1968. I was involved in sports this way or another since I was a child. At 7 I started cross country skiing. At 5 I used to practice figure skating. Because I lived on the North (Magadan), I was no stranger to flues and colds and I had to quit skiing. Then, I started rhythmic gymnastics and ballroom dancing. Meanwhile I had been studying at a music school. Overall I was a very active girl. I had a lot of friends and I always had a place in my kindergarten and school elite. I participated in many formal and informal events and competitions, which could be athletically oriented but not necessarily. I often behaved like a boy, trying to proof my right not be a weakling. As long as I remember myself, my athletic physique made me different not only from girls but from boys too. I was muscular and broad-shouldered, and I was known in the neighborhood as a bad girl. I was always stronger, cooler and faster than other girls and boys of my age. I used any opportunity to compete. I often preferred to spend time with boys, because girls were too weak and soft. The first time I showed up in the gym was in 1996. I spent a year getting used to it, looking around and then I fall in love with weight training. I started to workout more seriously by 2003. At this time I work as personal trainer at the sport and leisure complex “Premier Sport” in Moscow. As for my marital status, I am divorced and I have a son. For a while I enjoyed sport as a hobby. It is now people know me as an athlete, but very few know that I considered singing to be my destiny. I loved to sing and I still love it. I used to sing for myself and those who are close to me, but also for the audience at our city events, and even at the most popular restaurant of “sunny” Magadan. When I moved to Moscow I kept singing. I write both lyrics and music. I have released my own album. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly at the age of 26 I got enlightened. Ever since that time my creative process could not be stopped. I have a huge folder at home with so much song lyrics and poetry.
When and why started you competing in bodyfitness (figure) ?
– First time I competed at the Moscow Cup and the Russian Championship in 2005, when I took 4th place. Not too bad for the first try. Why figure? Figure is about beauty and esthetics. That is where my interest grows from. Why not bodybuilding? That is an interesting question. I asked it to myself when I decided to compete. I guess I made my choice because of the judging criteria. In figure, muscles and size are not emphasized to the same degree as it is in female bodybuilding. Why not fitness? Mainly because of the high risk of injuries. Nevertheless, I really like fitness.
So you are from Russia. How could you describe the situation of this sports (bodyfitness/fitness/bb) in Russia?
– The popularity of men’s bodybuilding, man’s classical bodybuilding (a new trend in the amateur bodybuilding), and figure keeps growing. The number of competitors and categories, and the level of contestant’s preparation get higher and higher with each year. Meanwhile, people lose interest in both men’s and women’s fitness, and female bodybuilding in particular. There are many reasons for that. Women’s bodybuilding gets an “unfeminine face”. The necessity of pursuing an extreme mass and condition (the criteria that the judges pay attention to) repel not only the fans but the athletes themselves. As for fitness, not everyone is able to be an acrobat, not everyone has a school of artistic and rhythmic gymnastics under her belt. Moreover, in my opinion, female physique only suffers from that. How many fitness champions have proportion close to ideal? It is hard to combine beautiful body with the ability to express this beauty in a very complex routine. Not to mention injuries. In our days it is getting harder and harder to compete. There are many strong athletes in Russia, as well as in Europe and the rest of the world. Figure is very popular. To become a member of the national team means that you are a Russian champion. And it is really hard to become a nation champion. In 2003 there were less than 20 competitors at championship of Russia in total. Now there is about the same number of athletes but in each of the four categories.
Could you tell me about your contest career so far? And could you give some of your best achievements?
I missed almost no competitions since 2005. I was a masters overall winner at the 2007 European Championship, a bronze medallist at the 2007 World Championship, a runner up at the 2008 European Championship, a three-times champion of Moscow and Russian Cups in 2006-2007. It is became a standard in Russia to award athletes with the ranks and titles for results on the official competitions. Thus, I am a Master of Sports of International Class.
You have been competing very often now in last few years and you are every time in very good condition. Many say that competing often successfully every spring and autumn is impossible but you have made it true. What is your secret?
There are no secrets. First of all, to achieve a goal I am ready to work hard day after day. Physically and mentally I am ready for exhausting workouts. I want to create a better myself. Having my own training plan is also crucial. This is a key to achieving my goal. Only staying honest to yourself, tracking each step, and controlling all changes and corrections allow me to reach the results which are necessary to compete on the highest level. Another important aspect is the help of the close ones. I couldn’t do it without their support, without knowing that they 100 percent believe in me, without walking side by side with them.
You are now one of the most successful figure amateur competitors. What makes you so good? In your opinion what are your strengths?
It is the harmony. This is a part of personality. I mean harmony in everything – life, work, sport. It is harmony with myself, because I want to be comfortable in any situation. I am not a robot, not a machine. However, I must say that such harmony can be achieved only through discipline, willpower, and determination. I follow my plan, workout very hard day after day, and push myself to the limit. But when it comes to rest, then it is the real rest – the same way as work means the real work. This is the only way for me.
In your opinion, is there some things in your physique you need to improve or are you satisfied?
There is always a place for improvement. There is always a space to grow. I will never be satisfied, especially since there are no clear criteria in figure at this moment. Today they reward one thing, tomorrow something else.
So in this spring you were runner up in European Championships and lost the win only with ONE point. Comments?
As for the championship in Macedonia, I have a lot of questions. The first day I was the first in both rounds. Next day the same team of judges gave me the third place. As a result I lost one point to a Croatia athlete. Did my condition become so much worse than it was in the first day? I don’t think so. I was in the same condition. I do feel disappointed, but… Long before I have made my mind about two things: first, my goal is always to take the first place, I build my body to be in champion’s condition. Second, before I decide to participate in the next competition, in order to move on and to push myself even further, I say to myself “Yes, I presented my best shape so far, but today judges looked for something different.” Do you see what I mean? It is enough to recall figure skating and the way athletes get placed sometimes.
How has your summer been after European Championships?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much rest this summer. I spend it mostly working and preparing for upcoming contests. Though, I did have a short but active
You started already your contest season a few weeks ago in Baikal Euro Elite Tour and you won the show. You also beat defending world’s over all champion. How would you comment your contest, condition and your win?
This show had the best organization that I’ve ever seen since I started competing. I won the contest, but it was not an easy fight. I stood in one line with well known and titled athletes not only from Russia, but from Belorussia and Lithuania too. From the very beginning, as usual, I set a goal to be the first one, since no other place would ever satisfy me. And I did it! It is hard to talk about your own achievements. The only thing that matters is that I won. And I did not just defeat other girls, I defeat myself. What gave me an advantage in Irkutsk? The competition had a very complex structure. Overall there were six rounds. I used five different suits, different hairstyles, and even three pairs of shoes. Every round I was getting into a new character, every time I tried to leave a different impression on judges and the audience, and I think I succeeded in that. On top of that I had my body in the best condition I could possibly get, otherwise I wouldn’t compete. A champion has to look like a champion at any show.
How looks your contest schedule now after Baikal show?
Now I am preparing for the World Championship in Spain. After that, if I feel ready and have respectful champion condition, I will participate at the Russian Championship and also at the commercial show in Tyumen, Russia.
So you are now about seven weeks out from the World’s championships. What kind of thoughts and goals do you have concerning the upcoming world championships event?
World Championship is always a serious challenge. Above I have already described my goals. I will do everything possible to get in my best shape and to win. It is going to be hard, but challenges exist to be overcome.
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