Last year, Uzbek taekwondo athlete Dmitry Shokin repeatedly shocked international community. He rose by 18 positions in the ranking of the World Olympic Taekwondo Federation. This helped to keep the lead, despite of the losses at the biggest competitions of the season. Of course, his competitors in the struggle for the leadership on the world stage did not expect such results. He became the first undisputed world champion in the history of taekwondo in Uzbekistan. Today, he is preparing to compete at the biggest events of the planet. Despite his workload, Dima found time to answer questions of Uzbekistan Today.
Way to Olympus
Dmitry, can we say that 2015 was the most successful year in your career?
- Of course, it was. I became world champion, leading Olympic and world rankings of the World Taekwondo Federation. I won 8 gold medals and two bronze at international tournaments.
It’s a banal question, but how did you do it?
- I am used to setting and achieving goals. I try to look at things realistically. Of course, I was planning to enter the top three winners of the World Cup, but I could only dream to become the champion. Although, frankly, I set myself to win and it just all happened. Everything. I off course credit my personal trainer - he always makes me achieve the highest goals. Travelling to international competitions also helps me; it is an invaluable experience that allows me to move to sporting heights.
However, there were also disappointing defeats. One of them - in Mexico at the Grand Prix G-8, which gathered eight of the world's strongest athletes. You lost in the first battle. What happened? Were you in bad shape?
- No, I was in normal shape. And what happened - once again confirms that sport is unpredictable. The outcome depends on a number of circumstances. There were two representatives of the same country, that is, I and Dzhasur Baykuziev in the same weight category. This means that from the representatives of the six other countries only one will not pass, of course this fact toned all participants in the struggle for a license.
My oponent was a Frenchman, who holds the 8th place in the Olympic ranking. After the injury, he suddenly made his way into the top eight. Luck was on his side. Anyway fighting among the strongest is always the most difficult. It is not easy to strike, one of the features of the participants in these tournaments is well-organized defense technique.
It was the first competition where new protectors were tested - devices on the suit, which detect hits and transmit them to a computer that keeps a record of points. They say that these are "working" on the Olympics. So, a distinctive feature of the new model is that it’s very difficult to get a point.Look at the results of all the battles of the Grand Prix, everybody got 1-2 points maximum. By the way, it does not remain without attention of all participants of the tournament - they appealed to organizers. In my opinion, these protectors make the sport less entertaining.
- We tried to challenge the decision of the judges, as there were a few strokes, which could count in my favor, but again ... no luck. When they began to view the video, it appeared that the very moment that could decide the outcome, was not captured by the camera. The record was such that it did not give a clear answer to the question: "Was there a blow?"
In your opinion, why did they introduce new models of protectors?
- What do you mean why? This is a business. If these protectors are approved, all national federations will seek to acquire them for their athletes. They will just need to provide adequate training for members of teams.
What accounts for your biggest disappointment in the sport ?
- Errors of judges make it hard to move up. But we're all human.
Do you think the judges are often biased?
- I believe that Taekwondo is the most objective form of martial arts. The rating system is transparent, points earned can not be removed, as in some other sports. The only human factor are the times when they judge can side with a particular athlete. At the same time, I have no objective reason to doubt the professionalism and effectiveness of anyone in particular, I believe all of them are professionals.
Price of leadership.
Taekwondo is one of the most traumatic sports. The price paid for a beautiful victory is injury. Are you tired of enduring the pain?
- Last year I had no injuries. The most serious injury in the whole career was in 2012, when I broke my arm. And I had to go to the World Cup with a broken arm and lost in the first battle.
Did you lose because you were in pain?
- Strange as it may sound, during the fight, despite the fact that I receieved blows on the broken hand, I did not feel pain. Before the golden point, I fell and received two notes from judges, one of them, in my opinion, was incorrect. The opponent hit me in the groin, they had to punish him, but punished me instead.
In an earlier interview, you said that you schedule tours for the national team during your trips. Do you still do this?
- I am a future specialist in the field of tourism, I am currently studying at the Tashkent State Economic University. There was simply no time for tours in the last trip. You know, the higher the results, the more pressure. Recently, we did not go anywhere - all the attention was focused on training and preparation .
But in general, when is it possible to choose the time to explore the city, because competition usually last a few days ?
- The longer the trip - the more free time. We often have to arrive at the competion in advance, depending on the bus or plane schedule, and we always go with the expectation that it takes time to acclimatize. So in that case, we have time for small educational tours.
Everyone talks of acclimatization - is the truth or a myth ?
- It's true. It is difficult to reverse day and night. I also need to get used to the climate. For example, we were not used to the Meixican weather. In the first training, we were exhausted by the third minute, but closer to the competitions we have become accustomed and local weather conditions did not seem so terrible .
You probably received offers to compete for the national teams of other countries?
- Such proposals were made. The rule is that in case of transfer to another team, Taekwondo Association of Uzbekistan may impose a ban on my participation in rating competitions for three years. During this time, a lot can change. This is not football. But even if it were possible, I would have refused. Uzbekistan is my home, I grew up here, here are my relatives and friends. I like our mentality and am very fond of Uzbek national dishes.
What dish of Uzbek cuisine do you like most?
- Plov. Our club "Tornado" has a tradition: before my departure for the big competitions, we all go to the teahouse and eat plov. We - my personal trainer and founder of the club "Tornado" Fahritdin Umarov and the older generation of his students, who help him train the youth. According to tradition, I get a large piece of meat that I have to eat, we believe that it adds me strength. You may laugh, it really helps me. You know, once, before my departure to Turkey we could not get together, the result - I was in third place.
Is Baykuziev with you in this moments?
- No, he is a representative of another school.
Your main rival?
- Not only. We are friends, members of the national team, but he has no connection to the "Tornado".
Are athletes well supported in our country?
- Yes. This year, I won six TV sets, two I set up at home and two more are in boxes, and two I gave away as gifts. But the most pleasant encouragement is money because I can buy what I really need. For example, this year I collected all the cash rewards, and bought a car for my parents.
Now being a world champion, do you often visit your club?
- Always, when I have time I help my coach. After our interview, I am going to the club. The guys are waiting for me. There will be training.
You are not afraid to grow your own competitors?
- On the contrary, it is desirable to have more strong athletes. This will contribute to the professional growth .
Do you give interviews often?
- Yes very. The interest of journalists increased after becoming a world champion. Then for a brief time there was a lull, and at the end of last year the President awarded me the Order "Dustlik" and the interest in me was reignated. I was voted the best athlete according to the Center of martial arts and was awarded the prize " Etirof -2015 ." Before the new year I had to give two or three interviews a day.
Why don’t you decline?
- Our journalists are very persistent, it is difficult to decline. They send requests through the Ministry of National Olympic Committee. Before the new year, we had a vacation, it was a good time to talk to journalists. Now, taking this opportunity I appeal to all your colleagues: we need to prepare for the Olympics, it is certainly interesting to talk to you, but do not misunderstand, it is very distracting. We, I mean the whole country, need a victory, so please don’t be offended if I start declining invitations for interviews.
Did we distract you?
- No, it is always a pleasure to talk to you. Moreover, in my archive of media appearances - this will be the second exclusive interview with Uzbekistan Today.
You collect publications?
- Yes, my father started this tradition.
Why do you do it?
- I don’t know. For history, probably, I will show it to my children.
Dima, for all girls in the country, are you married?
- Not yet.
Does it mean that the heart of the country's most powerful man still free?
- I am not planning to marry yet.
Do people treat you differently now that you’ve become a champion and winner of prestigious awards?
- My family, friends are still with me. The number of those wishing to meet me increased, especially on the Internet. I try to reply to all, and not offend anyone.
Are you recognized on the streets?
- Yes, of course. Some congratulate and wish me success, others ask to take a picture. People of different ages come up to me, especially when I go to the supermarket.
How are things at the university?
- Normal, I continue my study in the first year of Masters at the Tashkent State Economic University.
How do you manage to succeed in Education and Sports at the same time?
- It’s difficult. Teachers are understanding when it comes to my absenses, but they demand that I sumbit everything. There are no exemptions. Sports is sports, and education is education. Discipline is necessary, here and there and that's always difficult.
In what positive way has sport influenced you? What changed inside?
- Self-esteem. I feel more responsibility. I would like to meet the expectations, not to let anyone down: parents, coaches, and the country as a whole.
One step away from Olympics
Despite the disappointing defeat in Mexico, the main intrigue remains. Who will go to the Olympics, you or Baykuziev?
- Oh, the most popular question among journalists. Let's not run ahead of the engine. I do not want to talk about this. I am sure that we both are worthy to defend the honor of the country on the main events of the planet, both of us are eager to participate in the Olympics. But rules are rules, only one can go. The administration of WTF Taekwondo Association of Uzbekistan will decide. I'm sure it will be an objective and fair decision.
In any case, Pre-Olympic race is finished for you. Now it’s time to rest ?
- No, life goes on. Right now the gathering by the Association of Taekwondo WTF is completed, and a tight schedule follows. Training camps will be followed by participation in international competitions Series G- 1, G- 2. No matter who will go to the Olympics, all these starts are very important to maintain the shape and for self-improvement.After the Olympic Games in 2016, there will be more in 2020. There will be no race for the rating points since there are four and a half years before the next Olympic start. It’s a lot of time.
What do you think, will we win a medal at the Olympics ?
- I hope so.