Synchronized swimming is the kind of sport that Russia is rightfully proud of. Our athletes brought home a lot of gold medals and almost always took first place. Until recently, it was exclusively a female sport, but everything changed in 2014, when a new category of mixt-duets was introduced.
So in the world learned about the 23-year-old Alexander Maltsev – now he is a two-time world champion and four-time European champion. Last week he and his partner Maya Gurbanbardieva received gold medals at the European Championships.
How it all began
Alexander started sports at the age of seven in his native St. Petersburg. He changed several sports schools, and then moved to Moscow by the age of 18, where he entered the training for the deserved trainer of the Russian Federation Maria Nikolaevna Maksimova and her daughter Ghana Vladimirovna. Despite the fact that at that time men were not admitted to the competitions in synchronized swimming, Maltsev stubbornly pursued his goal and believed that one day everything would change. With his aspiration and career, he proved that this sport is a real art.
Visiting theaters is one of the best ways to switch. We have an artistic sport, and I feel a connection with fine arts. The theater helps not only internal personal growth, but also enriches our sports activities. I especially like ballet, because plastic expressiveness is very important for us,
– said in one of the interview the athlete.
At the end of 2014, the International Swimming Federation made the unexpected decision to add mixed duets to the competition program. They were called “mixt-duets”. Maltsev got an opportunity to speak at the world level and show the level of his skill to the professional community.
Four years after this truly historic event, Alexander is considered the main star in synchronized swimming. Before that, mixed kinds of competitions were added to the biathlon and swimmers at the distance. In view of the fact that the category of mixt-duets has appeared quite recently and the competition is not so high, more and more coaches are becoming interested in growing not just champions, but actually pioneers in this business.
Discrimination and harassment
Contrary to the popular belief that synchronized swimming is not a men’s sport, Maltsev says that other boys were engaged with him.
There was a set of boys in synchronized swimming, and my parents gave me there. <...> A lot of children came. But then they stopped typing, and the guys began to leave, someone was expelled. In the end, I was left alone. <...> The girls were training, and I was nearby and also learned the elements,
– he said in one of the interviews.
Now he is 23 years old, and he has long been considered a recognized professional, but in his teens, Maltsev had to be harassed by other people who did not believe in his successful career in synchronized swimming. However, now these people quite deservedly can bite their elbows, because the athlete has earned a huge number of gold medals for Russia, for each of which there is a big personal victory.
Abroad there is a certain number of synchro-men, but as they are engaged unprofessionally, their level is low. People just when they watch such speeches, begin to regard the male synchronized swimming negatively. I believe that in the men’s synchronized swimming, you need to show what women can not show. Men can show strength, women – beauty, grace. They will complement each other, it needs to be understood.
An example to follow
The success story of Alexander Maltsev became a real sensation, all professional publications began to speak about his achievements. The sportsman became the face of the advertising campaign of the sports brand Nike, which focuses on the image of successful people who are on their way to their dreams. And now many doubted teenagers decided to try their hand at synchronized swimming.
So, 17-year-old Mikhail Vasiliev and his partner in mixed-duet Alina Mantulenko in late July this year received a gold medal at the Junior World Synchronized Swimming Championships. And just a month before they got the European championship among juniors. Vasiliev from the very childhood was engaged in the section of sports swimming, but after he saw the first performance of Maltsev three years ago, I decided to change the profile and also start to train in mixt-duets.
Donjuan of the Moscow district
In addition, Alexander Maltsev is currently the only Russian sportsman in synchronized swimming, he also became known for having changed his partner several times. Earlier he performed with Darina Valitova and Michael Kalanchoy, and now this place was taken by Maya Gurbanbardieva. Colleagues jokingly call him a Don Juan, and Maltsev himself explains the situation by the fact that girls often want to try their luck and get into the Olympic team after a brilliant performance paired with the famous synchronizer.
When the partners are already perfectly suited to each other, lapping is faster. With Maya Gurbanberdiyeva, this is exactly the situation: we started work in November last year, and in December we already showed our free program. <...> We needed a maximum of a month and a half. If to generalize, within a year you can work with any partner. The most difficult thing is to get to know each other, learn habits, adjust to each other’s behavior,
– said Alexander.
Out of sports career
Now, when popularity has come to Alexander, he was increasingly invited to interview and social events. Last year he became a guest in the program “Evening Urgant”, where he told how after the World Cup in Kazan he was immediately given the title of “Honored Master of Sports” and what skills a person should have to become a synchronized swimmer.
And in June 2018, Alexander was entrusted to award the winner in the category “Breakthrough of the Year”, which was received by rapper Eljey. The athlete told about this on his page in Instagram. Among other things, he often travels to different countries during the competition, so in his account you can find photos from trips to France, Dubai, London and the island of Samui in Thailand.
At the moment, about 12 men in mixed duets perform at the World Synchronized Swimming Championships. The history of Alexander Maltsev gives us hope that this sport will continue to develop, and our team will bring more and more medals every year. It can also be said that the trend of young people’s participation in women’s sports will expand, as will the boundaries of the general idea of the opportunities and rights of each person.