Two-time Olympic medallist, former captain of the Russian national team, Sergei Garbuzov, sat down for an interview with an observer of the Press Office of the Kazan 2015 Organising Committee. He commented on his decision to play for the Russian Beavers team in the Masters tournament and also spoke about his team’s chances to beat the USSR Tatarstan team in the final.
– Russian Beavers team almost snatched the victory in the semifinal match versus the Brazilian team. Were the opponents surprisingly that strong?
– It was not a surprise actually, the Brazilian team seemed to be more serious about the semifinal match. As for our team I guess we were not supposed to be that self-confident about reaching the final. And thankfully the Brazilians cooled us down a bit. Now I believe by the final match having learnt this lesson we’ll be ready to fight for the gold
– Two Russian teams, Russian Beavers and USSR Tatarstan, originally started contesting for medals at the Masters tournament. And now the Russian Beavers team seems to clash against the USSR Tatarstan team again. It is OK comparing these two matches?
– No, not quite, the final match will be absolutely another one! During the tournament both teams got only stronger. As for the USSR Tatarstan team, an experienced water polo player Marat Zakirov has joined them. I am not that kind of person who likes to make predictions especially before the start of the water polo match but I must admit that the USSR Tatarstan team is full of excellent water polo players. All of them not once have been renowned medallists during their careers whereas our team can not brag about it (laughs).
– Having lots of medals and titles in your collection, you are not the one who should worry about that.
– Since I am the only one from the Russian Beavers team who has been participating in the international level competitions in general I think playing versus the USSR Tatarstan team is not going to be that easy. Irek Zinnurov, Marat Zakirov, Nikolay Maksimov, Sergei Isaev, all of them are nothing but well-known celebrities of the domestiс water polo event. Although let us wait and see. If it is not an experience from our part then it is definitely the attitude and quite fighting spirit which will help us win.
– Do you find the so called clash of two great coaches of Dynamo team: Marat Zakirov versus Sergei Garbuzov to be a highlight of the upcoming match?
– Yeah, it might be kind of interesting I think (smiles).
– Is it going to influence somehow your working relations after the tournament?
– No way! The best thing is that we all can set apart the relations during the game and afterwards. You know we’ve faced every kind of situations in our sports career. For instance once we even had a fight during the match but afterwards we made peace shaking hands and had dinner together. Sport is all about various kinds of emotions that is why if we’ve been friends before the Championships we will remain friends after the tournament with Marat Zakirov and the others.
– You’ve been an Olympic medalist twice, you’ve also been a captain of a national Russian team. What made you take part in the World Masters Championships where you quite often happen to play versus amateurs’ teams?
– First of all the Masters tournament gives just-retired-from-the-sports career athletes a great opportunity to always keep fit. Second of all it lets us communicate with those ones we’ve kept company with in the past while we were professional athletes. Some of them for example I haven’t seen since I was a junior athlete. Can you imagine how much time has passed? The interaction, close friendship between the water polo teams are the key factors which will always motivate and inspire the athletes to apply and compete later on in every single Masters tournament.
– Please tell us a story of how the representatives of the Russian Beavers invited you to take part in the Masters tournament.
– I have already played for the Beavers for some years. We played at the previous World Masters Championships, that took place in Canada. Since then we have been in contact. When they called me with this idea, I immediately agreed.
– Do you know the background of ‘Beavers’ name?
– They said they had had to give a name to their team ahead of one tournament. They started to generate ideas, but nothing occurred to them. They wanted the name to have some relation to water, but ‘sharks’, ‘dolphins’ are not new, so ‘beavers’ came up. It is a nice and quite original name (smiles).
– Do you realise that it is a long-life dream for some players to play with or against ex-captain of Team Russia, Sergei Garbuzov?
– I agree and think that when Masters and amateurs participate in one tournament it stimulates the latter. I realise that not all had a chance to play with or against us, but that’s why a Masters tournament is a good idea as it gives an opportunity to play with somebody who you may have seen only on TV. In the final we met with star rivals, and it was a high motivation and a dream come true for our players, who had never performed at a high-profile event, to challenge such distinguished water polo players as Zinnurov or Zakirov. I think such emotions do matter.
Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships