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StickItMedia Exclusive Interview: Dmitri Belanovski

Posted on 02 January 2012 by admin

Swiss Turners Gymnastics Academy, in West Allis, WI, is one of the top men’s club programs in the country.  Their optional program had five boys place in the Top 36 at JO Nationals this past May.  One of these young men, Dmitri Belanovski, has been a perennial top all-arounder and Junior National Team member.  If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because his father Alex competed in the 1996 Olympics for Belarus.  His mother Tatiana is no stranger to the gymnastics world either.  She is a former rhythmic gymnastics National Team member for Belarus.  Both parents are coaches at Swiss Turners.

Dmitri moved to the U.S. when he was six-and-a-half years old, and soon took up the sport at age seven.  He and his family have already started the process to become U.S. citizens, and they will achieve that dream in just a couple more years.  After already scoring high enough to qualify for the VISA U.S. Championships the past few seasons, Dmitri will soon be eligible to compete.

Alex was kind enough to provide some comments on his son’s development.  “I never thought my son would be a gymnast because I spent 20 years in gymnastics, and I thought it would be too difficult of a sport for him.  I remember my mom and dad were very worried about me when I was competing, and I didn’t want to become that worried parent.  When you compete, you’re less worried about yourself than your parents or coaches are.  Finally, he came to our gym and was asked to join the gymnastics team, so I agreed, just because I wanted him to become a strong kid.  But then he started to enjoy the sport and started to give me headaches from being worried so much.”

Dmitri has compiled exemplary competition results over the past several seasons.  Here are a few highlights:

  • 2011 JO Nationals (Level 10 14/15) – 4th AA, 1st PB, 4th FX, 4th PH
  • 2010 JO Nationals (Level 10 14/15) – 7th AA, 3rd PH
  • 2009 JO Nationals (Level 9) – 5th AA, 4th PH, 6th PB, 2nd HB
  • 2008 JO Nationals (Level 9) – 13th AA, 2nd HB

StickItMedia recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dmitri Belanovski, or if you’re on Twitter, @DimaBelanovski:

SiM:  What do you recall from your beginning days in gymnastics?

Dima:  What I recall from my beginning days in gymnastics is how I got started.  I always used to come into the gym to play around, because my parents worked there.  One day, one of the coaches asked me to join his class, so I decided to give it a try and ended up moving up to team and competing.  I also remember winning all around at my very first meet, and I still have the medal hanging up in my room right now.

SiM:  What is the best advice you’ve ever received, and what advice would you give to a young compulsory gymnast?

Dima:  The best advice I have received is to never give up, and that everybody has bad days and bad moments in their life.  This really motivated me to just keep working hard and to move on to the next practice if one practice goes badly.  I would give the same advice to a young compulsory gymnast.  If you can’t get a skill, just keep working at it and it will come to you eventually.

SiM:  Please describe your training experience at Swiss Turners (coaching & teammates).

Dima:  Training at Swiss is a really interesting experience.  We are really close with one another and are almost one big family.  Also, at Swiss we are very competitive with one another.  We always try to find a way to make a contest out of what we’re working on.  I find this very helpful, because we are pushing each other to do our best.  Win or lose, there are never any hard feelings.  At Swiss, we also like to joke around a lot, and we always try to have fun while getting our work done, of course. Another interesting experience is the coaching we have.  We have 3 coaches (Stacy Maloney, Andrei Kan, Belanovski) who all have different experiences with the sport of gymnastics, so you’re always getting a bunch of different corrections, or they all tell you the same correction so you know it’s important to fix.

SiM:  What are your biggest challenges to remaining highly competitive?

Dima:  My biggest challenges are staying healthy and constantly improving on my skills and routines.  I want to keep making my routines more difficult, but also perfecting the skills I have in the routines.

SiM:  What are your most difficult events, and why?

Dima:  The events most difficult for me are high bar and horse.  They are difficult for me because both events are hard to become consistent on.  High bar you have to learn how to catch your release moves consistently, and on horse you just have to learn how to stay on and fight through your routine.

SiM:  Who are your role models, and why?

Dima:  My role model is my dad.  Being my coach, my dad always knows what’s best for me and always knows what to do.  He has helped me so much with my gymnastics career, and has never given up on me.  My dad has taught me a whole lot about never giving up.  He always tells me to try my best, and if I do my job, things will turn out how I want them to turn out.  My dad also inspires me to be the best gymnast I can be, because he went to the 1996 Olympics, so I know that it’s not an impossible goal to go to the Olympics just like he did.

SiM:  What new skills do you plan to add next season?

Dima:  I have added a lot of new skills this year, but a few major ones that I have learned are double layout/whip two and a half on floor, straight body planche on rings, Kas full on vault and yamawakee on high bar.

SiM:  What are your goals for the remainder of your club career?

Dima:  My goals for the remainder of my club career are to keep making National Team, and to get top three in the all around.  Also, keep on making event finals at Nationals and win some events too.

SiM:  Do you plan to compete at the collegiate level?

Dima:  Yes, I do plan to compete at the collegiate level.  It would be an amazing opportunity to compete for any college.

SiM:  Please list three things you would do to help make men’s gymnastics more popular.

Dima:  Three things that I would do to make men’s gymnastics more popular are get it to be televised more on ESPN, make commercials about how great a sport it is and just tell people to come and watch a competition sometime to see if they like it.

SiM:  What are your proudest gymnastics and non-gymnastics achievements?

Dima:  My proudest gymnastics achievements are making the National Team multiple times and winning parallel bars at last years Nationals.  My proudest non-gymnastics achievement is getting good grades in school and always keeping up with my school work.

SiM:  Please describe your best interactions with the Hamm brothers.

Dima:  I’ve known the Hamm brothers since I first started gymnastics.  My best interactions with them was going bowling with them, my dad and Andrei when I was little.  Also, sometimes they would come to my house or Andrei’s house, so it’s nice to be able to talk to them outside of the gym and to see what kind of people they are outside the sport of gymnastics.

SiM:  How has it been to have parents who happen to be gymnastics coaches?

Dima:  I really like having parents that are gymnastics coaches.  They always know how to treat an injury, and they can relate to the problems you are having in the gym.  Also, they always know what you’re talking about, unlike a normal parent that you would have to explain the skills you’re doing at the gym, or to explain the scoring system.

SiM:  What is your favorite thing about walking into the gym every day?

Dima:  My favorite thing about walking into the gym everyday is seeing all my teammates that are like brothers to me and working hard to improve on all my routines.

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