It used to be like this. If you were already born in a small town, where for entertainment there is a morning market and a city-wide fan club, a direct road to the local stadium, where football players and athletes knocked out all the dust of a boring life, or to the sports section, which in the USSR was enough in any region.
This was the fate of the future Olympic fencing champion Nikolai Alekhin. The most interesting thing is that Nikolai did not come to the sports section alone, but with a friend, later another Olympic champion, Alexander Romankov. “We came because there was nothing to do. Parents are looking now: it will be possible to earn money here, but here it is prestigious, ”Alekhin said in an interview.
At first, in the life of Nicholas there was exclusively a rapier. Both friends Alekhin and Romankov fought with a weapon. But at some point, the mentor Ernest Asievsky, who watched these passions, decided to transfer the guys to saber. It was there that there was a catastrophic shortage of people, for some reason young people preferred the rapier. Surprisingly, Alekhin even burst into tears in frustration. It is for us, the townspeople, that such a passion for our projectile is incomprehensible, people from the world of swords and ultra-rapid shots have their own vision of fencing. However, a little later, Kolya did not know how to thank the coach Asievsky for once reformatting him into a saber.
Photo source: RIA Novosti
“Absolutely different shells. The sword has a triangular blade and a handle with a guard that protects the athlete’s hand. The affected surface in this case is the entire body of the enemy. You can click on the sock, hand, mask. The rapier has a square blade. Injections are counted only in the torso, including, of course, the back. In a saber, the affected area reaches the waist. That is, you can hit the arm and torso, but not the leg. Also, for a long time, until the late 1980s, unlike the sword and rapier, blows on the saber were not registered by electronics. This is due to the fact that there are more chopping than stabbing blows. They are more difficult to define. The judges were in charge. And, as you understand, they did it quite subjectively,” Alekhin recalled.
Surprisingly, success came to Alekhin at the first competitions. The championship of the republican sports schools – and immediately the second place. And then a series of victories, but something was wrong, as if no one wanted to take Nikolai seriously. He won and he won, what’s wrong with that? And the coach who prepared the world and Olympic champions, Alexander Fel, fully charged Alyokhina in the forehead: “You have no talent.” How do you stay motivated after this? But, as they say, you can nail such people. Nicholas did not give up. As he showed the future, he was more than right in this zeal.
However, for an amazing performance, Fel took Alekhin. I watched, I adapted, I paid attention to detail, and I took it. Nikolai immediately fell under the wing of the winners, and there was someone to learn from. In one position people converged, behind whose backs the successes in the most prestigious tournaments on the planet followed one another. For example, the four-time Olympic champion Viktor Sidyak. “I was watching all the time and wondering how they were sweating, the big ones, they had taken off their T-shirt and they were cheerful and cheerful again, but I could barely walk. He looks young, but his legs can’t support him. And then I sat down, looked closely, thought and understood: they can relax for a few seconds, relieve tension, psychological stress and attack again. As soon as I learned this, it started working for me, ”Alekhin admitted.
At the 1980 home Olympics, Alekhin did not get into the main team. But in the end, when the time came, he did not let the team down. And it all started badly. Soviet saber fighters lost to Romania. In addition, there was a bombshell from the leadership, which was very outraged that the guys could embarrass the Motherland in front of their own spectators. This is what led, made the conquest of “gold” possible. Cubans and Hungarians were simply demolished in a single command impulse. “In the final, the team was a monolith, everyone supported each other. We didn’t leave any chance for the Italians to take a breather or tune in so we could win. There was a feeling that they were more afraid than us, ”Alekhin shared the memories of him.
Photo source: National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus
Many years later, Nikolai Alekhin said that his Olympic medal was stolen. Also, no one needed Alekhin’s experience in his native Belarus. He thus lived with the expectation of being remembered, invited and found an opportunity to use his vast experience. But they were only invited to events dedicated to the anniversaries of Olympic victories. “They only remember me when there are some events where you need to show champions. I have been retired for a long time, but I still have strength, knowledge and experience, it is a pity that there is no one to pass on to, ”Nikolai Alekhin said.
Today Nikolai Aleksandrovich Alekhin has left. We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the great Soviet athlete.