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“As a player, I grew up in Italy.” The son of a Soviet legend will shine in our volleyball

Date: May 28, 2024 Time: 20:41:00

Oleg is the son of the great Soviet player and Russian coach Yaroslav Antonov. In his career, the 35-year-old played mainly in Italian clubs, but in the 2018/2019 season he played in Russia with Ural. Oleg spent last season at Italian club Taranto and this season he will be a starter at Nova Novokuybyshevsk.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist, in an interview with Championship, spoke about the reasons for his move to Russia, playing in the Italian national team with Ivan Zaitsev, relations with his great father and goals for the season in the Super League.

“I kicked a ball for the first time in my career”

— Oleg, how did you manage to return to the Russian Super League? Would you value your debut with Nova? — The debut took place at the Salnikov Cup in Yaroslavl, a few days before the Platonov Memorial. And everything went well. These are, of course, the first matches for the entire team. Therefore, there is something to work on. A new point guard also arrived (Australian national team player Arshdeep Dosanjh – Championship Note). That is why it was necessary to find a common language.

— The matches at the Platonov Memorial were very tough. Nova played five sets in three of the four matches. – We can say that these were the first matches for all teams: the clubs were at an early stage of preparation, so such a development could be foreseen: many long matches. It is still difficult for teams to give 100% performance, to reveal themselves…

—You scored a great goal with your foot. Have you had many moments like that in your career? “I think it’s the first time I’ve scored like that.” He just wanted to throw the ball there and stop it, because he was already far away. But it turned out he scored.

—How was the signing? — I received an offer from Novokuybyshevsk. I agreed because the Russian championship is one of the strongest in the world and I wanted to play here. I was the only one from Russia, so I rejected offers from other countries.

“No one dissuaded me from moving to Russia; this is an opportunity to learn something new”

– This is not a debut in Russia – you played in the Urals. How did you feel when you came back here? “I made the decision easily and came back with the feeling that I wanted to play well here. Next season is very difficult: the level of the Championship is high, we will have to fight in every match. That’s why I think the most important thing is that the team helps each other. Then there will be chances to have a good championship. I don’t want to make predictions, but I think that in a championship like this we will have to go game by game, play every ball. And then the Super League will show how great we are.

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—How has volleyball changed in Russia during this time? — It is still too early to say, give evaluations and share impressions; So far we have played two tournaments. And some teams are not yet complete: it is the beginning of the season. If you ask me this question in a few months, I’ll be able to answer it a little more precisely.

— Have you been following the Russian Championship? Maybe you watched the final playoff games? —Sometimes I looked, but not because I was Russian. And I looked at everyone else. I mainly follow the leagues I play in at the time. I looked at the most important ones, but now I don’t even remember which ones.

— Were there those who dissuaded you from the decision to move to Russia: former colleagues, family members? – No, they didn’t dissuade me, no one said anything about it. Neither my parents nor my family influenced the decision, I made it autonomously. In this sense, no one has ever put obstacles in my path. Of course, I can ask for opinions, but I make the final decision myself.

—But you still had to consult with your wife and children? – Yes, sure. They agreed to move without any problems. Moving to another country is not the first time for them, they are used to it.

—And even the contrast didn’t scare you? “This doesn’t scare our family.” This is perceived as an incentive, a step towards new experiences, because we have been to many countries: in any of them it can be both good and bad. Both my family and I are prepared for anything: this is an opportunity to learn something new.

Oleg Antonov

Photo: vk.com/nova_volleyball

“I know the country and how everything works here”

— What is it still difficult for you to get used to in Russia? – You know, I was born in Russia and lived in Russia until I was 13, and then I returned to Russia, so I know the country. I speak like Russian. I know how everything works here: there are good things and bad things. For example, in Italy there is a lot of bureaucracy, in Russia there is less and everything is easier. Yes, and it depends on the person themselves: what they pay attention to. And right at this second nothing occurs to me. There is a difference in culture, history and geography: you can travel around Italy in a few hours, but only if you fly through Russia.

— Do you communicate in Russian in your family? — I speak Russian, my wife speaks Italian. Before putting the children to bed, I read them Russian fairy tales, and the next day my wife does it in Italian. They, of course, know more about Italian culture because they live in Italy.

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—How do children perceive the new country? “They are children and they are used to moving. Furthermore, they are only nine years old, seven and a half and five; In December they will turn six. They do not even feel this contrast, although they know that they are in another country, in Samara. But no matter how much we travel, they adapt and get used to the place better than adults.

— Your oldest son’s story seems to repeat yours: you moved to another country when you were 13 years old. What is his life like, without friends and without a family environment? — For now, online school is in the plans. But we want to send our children to play sports. Volleyball? Wherever they want, they will go. I won’t insist, and they themselves don’t care: they see dad and they also want to play volleyball. Maybe it’s too early, because, for example, I started later than them. My philosophy: you have to try everything before deciding and be completely sure of what you want.

— Did you have this option when you were a child? Father Yaroslav and Uncle Oleg are great volleyball personalities. – You know, I really had no choice and I wanted her myself. At home there was always volleyball: like now with my children. When I was little, I also traveled with my father all over Europe when he played. So I wanted a life like that too, there was never any doubt about it: what would my future be like? He always played in attack and did not even consider other roles: at first he was a diagonal player, and after 24 years he became a finishing player.

Yaroslav Antonov as coach of Dinamo Moscow

Photo: RIA Novosti

—During your career, was your father an example? Or did you find other players to follow? – Yes, my father, like me now for my children, was an example for me in childhood. Already when I turned professional, when I was between 18 and 20 years old, I looked for authority in other players, mostly older than me. When you start “touching” the world of volleyball with your hands, it is natural. But even at 35 you follow players who are already younger than you. Skill and experience also depend on how openly you look at new things, even when it seems like you have enough of everything. There is always the desire to increase this experience and be better. Every team has such individuals. I can’t specifically say, “That player blew me away!” Every practice, game, or tournament gives you something to think about and a chance to learn from someone else. There are no personalities. You don’t get experience from anyone in particular, but from players and situations in general.

“I owe more to Italian volleyball: there I learned all the skills”

— Was there ever a chance to play for the Russian national team? Were you interested? — I grew up as a player in Italy, where I learned volleyball skills. But I never played in Russia and maybe no one knew about me here. I received a request from the Italian team; This is what I wanted: In terms of volleyball, I grew up in Italy. I thought I owed more to Italian volleyball.

—How incredible was that debut with the national team at the Rio Olympics for you? – Indescribable. But during the game itself, you are focused on what you have to do on and off the court. And the understanding of what happened comes later, when everything is over: where you were, what you did.

—Did you feel the Olympic silver? — The sensation was at its maximum even in the reserves. I think that in those moments there are more emotions, not even when you are on the field, but when you are sitting on the bench and you can’t do anything but applaud. At some moments it was very difficult to watch the game, because it was also a semifinal against the United States. It is definitely difficult to be on the field, but at least there you are focused on the ball and everything is handled differently.

Italian team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

— Were you friends with Zaitsev on that team? Your destinies are similar. “We even spoke in Italian; The past had no influence.” We were friends and now we get along well. Yes, the stories are similar, but that is not what unites us. It was just a friendly relationship between two national team players. Stories about Russia definitely came up, sometimes they spoke in Russian.

“And his father coached the club where his son played, and yours. Is it more difficult to play under the leadership of a loved one? — First of all, of course, an atypical situation. But you get used to it and it becomes normal: you are focused on the ball, on the game. You don’t even think about that.

— Were debriefings done frequently after training? — No, we try not to talk about volleyball outside the gym.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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