— After the finish, it was scary to look at you. Why was the race so hard as part of the Sprint Festival?
- And I got a sore throat after the Russian team championship, I lost a week. Hence the result, not too high. But, I hope, I will get in better shape for the Znamensky memorial and everything will turn out better. In general, the start of this season turned out to be unusual, not the same as before. Exactly a year ago, I ran 45.18 here, and now 45.69 is the result. Nevertheless, I set a goal for myself - to fulfill the Olympic standard, everything is missing before it - to reset these 0.18. I hope we will run away and eventually succeed.
- Do you feel the strength in yourself to improve?
- Yes, but there is, however, one point. I had a failure in the winter. So it was very exciting to enter this season after what happened. But my coach and I, of course, have worked, and according to the plan, I still have to step forward. In general, I would like to run out, finally, from 45 seconds. Let us run for 44.90, but understand, feel what kind of speed it is. I hope I believe in it, but for now it is as it is.
- Sergey Klevtsov called your winter failure a structural failure. What did he mean?
"It's really a structural failure, and I can't add anything more to it, really. It was hard. I didn't do anything, I didn't even train. Neither I nor the coach ever understood what it was.
- Is it something psychological?
- Yes, for the most part.
- I suspect the problem is that last summer, just after the Athletics Week, everyone around began to expect record results from you.
- And now they are waiting. Constantly someone comes up and asks: "Well, when, when will you show 44 seconds?" People want it more than I do, I think. And it's hard when you're under so much pressure. My coach and I don't even talk about it as often as, say, last year. This "must-must" is useless, everything has its time.
- It is a great help that the coach understands and supports you, although you have not been working together with him for so long. Can we say that we have already found a perfect rapport?
- Of course, and it happened very quickly. And I do not hide the fact that our relations are not only professional, but also friendly. I'm great and comfortable with Klevtsov, so for me he's the best coach.
- And what kind of athlete are you for him? The one who unquestioningly follows the requirements and attitudes, or the one who asks questions, delves into the process and tries to bring his ideas?
- I think he himself would be better off talking about it, but, probably, I try to ask and understand. I like to argue, I can't do something and play it off (laughs). I think every athlete has some kind of unloved job in training, from which he happily shirks. For me, it's a 450-meter run. Who knows, he will understand. Here 400 is difficult to give, and this is another 50 meters from above. And you have to run more than once. It's very hard for me to endure.
- Do you turn to your partner in the coaching group Sergey Shubenkov for advice?
- No, Sergey has his own view of the world, I have mine, so we have no friendly relations, only professional ones.
- You have a very specific goal for the season - the Olympic standard. So, you still have hope of participating in the Games?
— Yes, absolutely. I want to show this result in order to be sure: if we are suddenly admitted, I have it. Well, even if this does not happen, I will still know that I am one of those who could go. That I did my best. What can we do if we are not allowed? We have to put up with it and score. But I'm not complaining. They support us in Russia as best they can. They hold such tournaments, come up with something new. We organized races near Red Square - it's great! Again, we get prize money.
"But it's very hard to beat personal records without competition...
"That's for sure. There are not enough international competitions, because at home we generally run with the same rivals. Don't just think that I'm a star or something like that, I have a lot of respect for the guys. But it often happens that you run into one, you fight with yourself. At international competitions, there would be someone to follow, there is more jitters, and in general everything is different.
I heard that Chinese runners wanted to come to us. I myself would gladly go somewhere, but at least to the same China, to Belarus. Just to run with the other guys. I've only had one international start in my career, the European Junior Championships in 2019, so I've forgotten what it's like to play abroad.
— With what thoughts do you look at Wade van Nikerk's world record of 43.03 seconds? As something transcendent or still real?
"Oh, I don't even look there yet. Here is the European record - if I'm not mistaken, 44.43 seconds - somehow closer to me. After all, how can I think about 43 seconds when I didn't even exchange 44? And the world achievement is a completely different level, it's cool. But still, I think it's possible to get to it. Someday, God willing.