Following a World Record in the 50 backstroke (24.00) at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow, United Kingdom, Russian star Kliment Kolesnikov talked with Russian media outlet Sport-Express about a wide array of topics.*
*For all of the non-Russian readers, if you do not have a translator extension built into your browser you may have to download one.
The 18 year-old Kolesnikov made a name for himself internationally in 2017 when he shattered the World Junior Record in the 200 back with a 1:55.49 at Russian Nationals (April 2017). That performance qualified him for the World Championships in Budapest, where he finished 4th in the 200 with a 1:55.14 – a new WJR that still stands today. In December, he added on a regular World Record in the 100 backstroke in short course meters.
But this year, Kolesnikov has looked stronger in the 50 and the 100. As mentioned above, he broke a longstanding super-suited 2009 WR in the 50 back at Euros with a 24.00. He also won the 100 in Glasgow with a quick 52.53 – a lifetime best that crushed his own WJR of 52.95 set the day before. In the 200 however, he missed the final (and semifinals) due to the 2-per-country rule – cruising in prelims with a 1:57.31. Teammates Evgeny Rylov (2017 World Champion) and Grigory Tarasevich were faster with a 1:56.67 and 1:57.07, respectively.
In the interview with Sport-Express, Kolesnikov answered a broad range of questions including: his thoughts on the WR, missing the 200 back final, drug testing at Euros, the public rivalry between Russian Yulia Efimova and USA’s Lilly King, the performances of fellow backstroker Ryan Murphy, the notion of training and going to school in the United States, and much more.
Please note: all of the responses below were translated from Russian to English using Google Translate, which could slightly alter the context.
On his 50 back World Record:
“I felt from this only joy. Because, in fact, I did not really want to beat the world record. And that’s why I did not fully understand what was happening at first. And only in 5-6 seconds, when I realized what had happened, joy swept over me.”
On drug testing at the European Championships:
“I five times handed in doping tests during the championship of Europe. Nobody came at 5 AM and did not break training. To all sportsmen there was an absolutely equal attitude.”
On the Efimova/King rivalry – specifically not shaking hands on Rio Olympics podium:
“I believe that this story is the result of personal dislike. This humiliation of the opponent. It’s disgusting to look at this behavior. Every opponent should have respect, because he does exactly the same job. And your personal dislike in public is not worth showing.”
On Ryan Murphy:
“Yes, I watched his swim. I saw him perform at the Olympics in Rio, where he set a world record in the relay race, looked now as he performed at Pan Pacific, where at a distance of 100 m he swam out of 52 seconds – the best result of the season in the world. Murphy is an outstanding backstroker of our time. I’m already thinking about how we will meet with him, if, of course, everything will be fine, next year at the World Championships and at the Olympics in Tokyo.”
On training in the United States:
“In the Russian team, many people are being offered to go to study and train in the US. They closely follow us. I had such offers. There were thoughts on this matter. But since there are two years left before the Olympics, I would not like to change something in my way of life. Moreover, it is so crucial to go to another country, to another coach, to a new society. I will prepare for Tokyo in Russia in the conditions that are now. The results are, progress is also – I will not change anything.”
You can read the the rest of the interview in its entirety here.