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Dmitry Svatkovsky: “In the next 5-10 years, the attitude to Golf in Russia may change»

Exactly 20 years ago, Dmitry Svatkovsky achieved the main achievement in his career — a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney in modern pentathlon. Soon after those Games, Dmitry finished his career, but did not leave the sport. In 2004, he became President of the European modern pentathlon Confederation, and was also the Director of the organizing Committee for the nomination of Moscow to host the 2012 Olympics and Sochi to host the 2014 Olympics. In addition, Svatkovsky is a Deputy of The state Duma, and also actively plays Golf. We talked with Dmitry about the problems of Russian Golf, its strengths and weaknesses as a player, as well as the upcoming tournament “Strong figures”.

  • Dmitry, in Russia and the former Soviet Union, there is still an opinion that Golf is a bourgeois sport only for the rich. Do you think Golf can expect a transformation in people’s minds like what happened to tennis in the 90s?
    — Such a transformation can indeed be expected, but under certain conditions! First, it is the emergence of a more developed and accessible infrastructure. There are prerequisites for this both in the two capitals and in the regions, because Golf has recently become an Olympic sport and the attitude towards it is gradually changing. Secondly, it is staffing – the appearance of methodologists, coaches with sufficient qualifications. Third, it is the appearance of Russian Champions-people who will be looked up to and whose success stories will be known. Our girls have a good chance here. When these three components add up to a single puzzle (in my opinion, this may happen within 5-10 years), we can expect a change in the attitude to Golf in our country.

— You, Svetlana Zhurova, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Vera Shimanskaya and other famous Russian athletes switched to Golf at the end of their main career. For you, Golf is just a hobby and a pleasant pastime in good company, or does your sporting nature and desire to show the best results manifest themselves in any situation?
— Of course, this is a pleasant leisure in the first place. This is communication with people who are United by one interest, one goal. I would put the sports component in second place. Although in the heat of competition, there is often excitement and emotions overwhelm, and there is a great desire to achieve a high sporting result.

  • Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses as a golfer.
  • Weak points are unstable strikes at a distance of more than 150 meters, there is still a lot of work to be done. And I will refer to the strengths of the “short” game — everything within 100 meters. I have gained confidence and psychological stability. Of course, a school of big-time sports makes itself felt: how to control your emotions as not to draw attention to the failures and to prepare for the next shot.

— The main problem of popularizing Golf in Russia today is the lack of a truly big international star, or will the mass audience still not be very interested in watching a player go through 18 holes for 4-5 hours?
— I think the issue of creating infrastructure again comes to the fore. And, of course, individual success stories attract both children and adults. In addition, holding major international competitions in our country will give an impetus to the development of Golf.

— In a recent interview, you said that Golf will at some point become closer to the people due to mass participation. Has this process already started or not yet?
— This process began and developed rapidly. Now a lot depends on the position of the state and the Ministry of sports of the Russian Federation. If a special program is created to support Golf in terms of creating conditions and schools on the ground, the process will go much faster. There are examples of many countries where Golf is a popular game.

— Do you follow the world of Golf? If so, which golfers and golfers do you like?
— I follow men’s Golf. At the top of my personal ranking, tiger woods is my age, and I have been watching him for many years, long before I came to Golf myself. A great career with UPS and downs. I will be happy to read his memoirs in the future. I am also interested in European golfers Jon RAM and Henrik Stenson. I am closely following Brooks Koepka, who is going through difficult times, and I wonder how he will cope with this situation. I am waiting for Russian golfers to appear. I think the audience of Golf in the country in this case would expand at a tremendous pace.

— Do you plan to introduce your children to Golf?
— The whole family watches my performances. The girls were already holding clubs in their hands, trying out punches. I think that this year we will go out with them on the field. I also promote Golf among my friends and try to involve them in this sport.