Name: Anjelika Reznik
Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Sport: Rhythmic gymnastics
Years in the sport: 13 years
How did you get started in gymnastics?
My mom was on the national team for rhythmic gymnastics in Kazakhstan. That’s where I was also born. When I was 10 years old with my identical twin sister, my mom wanted us to start an after school activity to keep us busy. She initially didn’t want us to do rhythmic gymnastics because she knew how difficult it is. So, she put us into ballet and we didn’t like it. She decided to give rhythmic gymnastics a try and we fell in love with it. She didn’t think we will go far with it because we started at such a late age, but we proved her wrong.
What was it like when you officially retired?
I have retired from rhythmic gymnastics but currently I’m doing a different branch of gymnastics called aesthetic group gymnastics (AGG). This new developing sport is similar to rhythmic. The difference is that it only has a group category, no apparatus (ex. ball, ribbon, hoop, clubs, rope), more about expression, and body movement. AGG is not yet in the Olympics, but I still compete for Team Canada at World Cups and World Championships. This sport is great for more mature gymnasts because it requires a high level understanding of emotion and technical movements. It can have up to 10 gymnasts on the team and impressive lifts. Both sports are equally mesmerizing to watch.
I love the fact that I still get to represent Canada and stay active. Being 23 years old and doing rhythmic gymnastics is very difficult for the body. AGG is an amazing alternative. Having AGG in my life gives me a chance to do what I love which is competing and performing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I would probably see myself coaching. I love passing all my knowledge acquired from gymnastics including the mentality of competing to younger generations. Working with children is my passion. I truly want to further develop gymnastics in Canada.
I’m the type of person who never had any idols or favourite athletes. I like them all because you can learn and take away something different from each one of them.
What was your biggest challenge as an athlete and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge as an athlete was finding the right mental state that would produce clean routines. For each person it’s different. The only way to figure it out is by experimenting and seeing what works for you. I believe in the fact that working hard at training increases your chances of having better routines. So essentially it’s a combination of both.
What has your biggest challenge since retiring from sport?
AGG doesn’t require as many hours in the gym as rhythmic gymnastics. The challenge was finding things to do to keep my day full and busy. Having training all the time meant that you didn’t have to plan anything else besides going to the gym, school, and doing homework. It’s important to have a balanced lifestyle of finding an outlet to still stay active and hanging out with friends and family. I finally had the chance of exploring what’s out there like yoga, skiing, and even cheerleading. When you’re a high competitive gymnast you have a contract that doesn’t allow you to practice any activities that can potentially injure you.
Best advice that you have been given?
When you work hard in training that’s when you start seeing results.
Reading, learning Spanish, and watching TV shows.
I like all genres of music and I even listen to songs in many different languages. But if I had to choose it would be Electric Dance Music (EDM).
What was the best part of competing?
The challenge of achieving a clean routine.
Keep your thoughts positive and flow with life.
If you could train with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would love to train with any of the Russian Olympic rhythmic gymnasts. Russia tends to always dominate in rhythmic gymnastics. I’ve always admired them for their amazing skill and would love to learn some of their secrets to incredible performances.
If you could have competed in another sport what would it be and why?
I would compete in ball room dancing. To me it looks so expressive and intriguing. It has a competitive side to it which is exactly what I like. And I love to dance!
Favourite place you competed?
My favourite venue was at the 2011 World Championships in France, which is where my team and I qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. It was beautiful and very professional in my opinion. But my favourite country to compete in was Russia. My background is Russian and I never been to Russia until I started competing internationally. It felt like I could relate to their culture and I somewhat felt like I was at home.
Did/do you have any special warm up routine?
In gymnastics we warm up for a very long time sometimes up to 1 hour. It always differs depending on how much time we have or what the focus is. It usually includes a warm up such as skipping or running, then floor exercises consisting of stretching and conditioning, over splits, kicks, jumping lines, elements, apparatus warmup, and then practicing the routine before starting with music.
Ice cream or cake?
Both! I Iove ice cream cake or even if the ice cream is just on top of the cake.
What did you do on your rest days?
Most of the time I would just want to relax and recuperate, but I knew I should make the most out of my free time. I would dedicate it to spending time with family and friends.
Last non food item you bought?
A big and warm scarf for the cold weather in Canada. I’m always cold!
Do you have a lucky number?
Not exactly, but when I was little I picked 7 randomly and I might stick to it.
Best thing you’ve done in the past 3 months?
I’ve moved to Barcelona because my boyfriend is studying there for his MBA there. I’m attending a Spanish school there trying to learn a new language. Before international competitions for AGG I would fly 3 weeks in advance to train and then compete for Canada. And of course I work out and stay in shape when I’m in Barcelona.
What would be your perfect meal?
A little taste of everything! I can’t eat one thing I have to keep changing flavours with a every bite.
What performance are you most proud of?
After the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto ended and my team and I won 2 bronze medals I stopped training for group. I decided to give the individual category another try just for fun. I picked my own music and choreographed my own routines. I started training at my old gymnastics club, but I didn’t have a coach. I coached myself. At the end of the season it was the Canadian Championship. I was the first person to perform with the ball. I was incredibly nervous, which seems silly because it was a small competition and no one was pressuring me to achieve any results. I just wanted to do a clean routine. I think it ended up being the worst routine of my life. I was so mad at myself because I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to pull myself together and find a mental state that will produce good routines. And I succeeded! The following routines were great! I even made it to finals and continued my clean routine streak.
Hardest sport moment you had to push through?
The 2011 World Championships were our qualifications for the 2012 London Olympic Games. I was the substitute on the team and I was in 1 out of the 2 routines because I was the youngest. A month before the most important competition of our lives a girl on our team twists her ankle. It was my job to replace her. So now I was in a routine that I have never been in or competed in before. I was terrified. The pressure was on and I knew I couldn’t let anyone down. Mentally it was so tough but I’m so proud I coped with it. There on after I was no longer the substitute.
What have you learned from gymnastics that has helped you in other parts of your life?
Discipline. This is so crucial in everything we do especially in school. You need to know your prioritize and how to time manage properly.
Favourite place to eat?
Love to try new places!
If you had to travel either forward in time or backward in time, which would you choose?
I would stay in the present. I have no regrets about anything I’ve done and I love having the mystery of the future.
All of them.
Dream job besides an athlete?
Working at Gymnastics Canada and trying to improve and further develop Canadian rhythmic gymnastics.
What motivated you to keep training?
My love and passion for the sport.
Favourite time of year?
Summer because I’m always cold and the sun comes out often.
How many hours did you train at a given week?
26 hours a week while being a full time student. When there’s no school then 42 hours a week.
What accomplishments outside of gymnastics are you the most proud of?
Being able to be a full time student the entire time of my athletic career and even including a University degree.
Anything people be surprised to learn about you?
I was born in Kazakhstan. I lived 8 years in Israel and lived 13 years in Canada. Currently, I live in Barcelona. I travel back to Canada for AGG trainings right before major competitions. I have an identical twin sister who looks just like me!
What is the funniest thing that happened to you/others while training?
My team and I were really tired one training and wanted it to end somehow. So my twin volunteered to fake faint. She did it and no one noticed, so she got back up and we continued doing our routines.
Favourite food while training?
Results you’re most proud of?
Winning a bronze medal at the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. I was only 14 years old and we created history by being the first Canadian team in our sport to medal at the first Youth Olympic Games.
What inspires you?
Myself because I always want to do the best job possible no matter what I’m doing. The struggles of a perfectionist.
What did/do you enjoy most about gymnastics?
The challenge of competing by not making mistakes.
Advise that you have for someone starting out gymnastics?
Only do it if you like it and if you do then just trying your best is always enough. There’s nothing worse then seeing a child being forced into something. It never ends well.
What was the most crucial part of your training?
Putting in long hours in the gym and having consistency. Rhythmic gymnastics is all about repetition. The more you repeat, the more consistent you get. In a team sport that is so challenging because you have to get every member on the team to become consistent. For some people that’s not always easy. Success is all decided on clean routines by the judges. You also have to produce what you do at trainings in competition and that means learning how to handle stress and pressure.
Anyone you would like to thank?
Svetlana Joukova was my coach who helped me get to the Olympics. She was the one who saw potential in me in becoming a successful gymnast from a young age.
It was an honour to be invited by her to train at Kalev, her gymnastics club. It was a higher level of training and much more pressure. Being only 13 years old, I learnt how to cope with this by working really hard.
Within a year I made the national junior group through the Canadian wide try outs and qualified Canada to compete at the Youth Olympic Games. My identical twin sister who trained by my side also made the team. Svetlana was our head coach who made this possible.
Later on, I made the senior team and Svetlana was the main coach as well. Two years later we competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games! History was created again, by us being the first Canadian rhythmic gymnastics group to compete at an Olympic Games.
Svetlana put in so many hours in coaching young unexperienced gymnasts just like I was once. She is very selfless in a sense that she is willing to sacrifice all her free and personal time for Canadian gymnasts.
Anything else you would like to share?
I do special appearances, public speaking, workshops, and classes (Masterclass). A variety of classes from gymnastics, dance, stretching, and conditioning. For inquiries you can email me at: email@example.com
My AGG team is seeking sponsors. Even though we are team Canada, we receive no support at all. Any sponsor partnerships will help even if it’s not financial. Honestly anything helps even if it’s just product sponsorship or endorsement. Email me please if you’re interested or know someone who might be: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoyed this interview be sure to check out our interview with Emily Sarsfield – 5x British National Champion