Darya Domracheva is the most titled biathlete in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. On Thursday together with her teammates she claimed gold in relay and today with the assistance of VISA as the official payment services sponsor of Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games Darya Domracheva went on the air with SPORT.TUT.BY. She spoke about the best psychologist Xenia Bjorndalen, minutes of laughter from Ole Einar and her perfect day off.
«I could have given up, but deep down inside I knew that I could win. And so it happened».
You are the most titled biathlete in the world. Can you believe it?
Since childhood I always dreamed of becoming the world and Olympic champion, however I never kept count of the titles or aimed to break any records. When journalists told me that I am now the most titled it was very unexpected and pleasing. How does it feel….? To be honest there was never a crown-on-my-head-moment or anything like that. Maybe in the faraway future when I am showing the medals to my grandchildren and telling them all about it I will become aware of this moment of glory.
Based on the comments of Belarusians the work day came to a full stop during the women’s relay – everyone watched Thursday’s race.
My best regards to everyone who followed the Olympics and supported us. My teammates did a fantastic job and made all the fans happy. To be honest the medal ceremony seemed so short; and I wanted so much to prolong the moment on the podium jumping from the joy together with my girls.
What was going on inside of you when the darling fourth gold medal of the Olympics landed in your hands?
You know, it was a pure feeling of enormous satisfaction. I thought to myself: «We did it, and now it is finally the way it should be!». During the Olympics there were so many difficulties. I could have lost heart, could have given up and say: «Ah, everything is going wrong!». Only we knew that this is the path and the tough times we just have to get through, it was important to do so. I once again proved to myself that you should never give up no matter what comes your way.
Emil Hegle Svendsen admitted that at the beginning of the Olympics he could not understand what was preventing him from winning the medal and therefore was using the services of a psychologist. Who helped you to maintain your peace of mind and psychological stability?
Throughout my career I have never had a consistent collaboration with psychologists. So I didn’t see the point of changing my routine for these Olympic Games. I knew that I have sufficient amount of experience in order to cope with difficulties myself. Deep down inside I knew that I could win. Fortunately, it happened.
«When I saw my baby's face I realized that scale-wise all the Olympics hardships weren’t that huge».
How did you spend the evenings after the unfortunate first races?
Our sporting schedule and everyday routine is very foreseeable. After any race – whether it was successful or not – I came back to the Olympic village and to my apartment, had a massage; did everything necessary to recover and make up the energy. As for the best emotional discharge, for me it was the phone calls back home. Ole and I talked to Xenia, and when we saw our little baby’s face I realized that scale-wise all the Olympics hardships weren’t that huge as it seemed at the beginning.
Before claiming the first gold medal for the Belarusian team at Pyeongchang Olympics could you say that the atmosphere was stressful?
When you cannot succeed and show the result that you want and certainly can achieve, the tension starts to arise. Every single member of our team experienced it, although we tried our best not to display anger or let off steam at each other. At some points I must say we were lacking a punching bag as we needed to let off the steam and leave all the negativity behind us. I have to admit it wasn’t easy to psych myself up for the race, then be upset about the results and then psych myself up again and so it goes around a circle. I am very happy that the fighting spirit remained within me until the end.
Your mom told us that she could barely exchange a few words with you as Xenia was taking the floor. What was the conversation like with your daughter who is only 18 months old?
Our talks were way far from the biathlon topic (laughs). It is the first time Xenia is without her parents for such a long time. At first I was very concerned, but I knew that my daughter is in good hands with my mom and her nanny right by her side. When talking to Xenia I saw that she was doing fine and was not in any distress because of our absence. She would take the pad and carry it around showing to Ole and me what new she has learnt. Our communication was quite full with the exception of body contact, but it was still emotionally charged. It’s so wonderful that we live in an age of hi-tech science!
So we can say that you actually have a personal psychologist.
Perhaps we can say so. As after chatting with our baby I regained the strength and enthusiasm to come out and keep on fighting.
«On a day-off if I stay in I usually do something for hearth and home, for instance baking».
How much time will you have to enjoy being back home in Minsk?
Not much. The season continues and after we get back we will have only a couple of days before we depart for Kontiolahti. I will literally have one or two days for a break. All in all, my perfect day-off must be spent outside: it could be a nice long stroll in the forest or going to the countryside. Being a couch potato is not about me. Certainly if there is a pouring rain outside I can stay at home, but I would still keep myself busy, will bake something or do something homely. My signature piece is homemade cakes that are always associated with days-off.
Why it was so crucial for you to have Ole Einar Bjorndalen in Pyeongchang?
I think that everybody understood that Ole wasn’t going to Pyeongchang as a coach. The pre-Olympic training was done with my coaches before the Olympics; and Ole Einar joined our team in Korea to support us and at some point maybe to direct us and give us a piece of advice from the point of view of eight-time Olympic champion.
Before the races Ole worked with our service men, helped them to prepare skis. Basically he made himself useful when there was a lack in people. Sometimes he shared some advice although being a sportsman he knew that in certain situations it’s better not to say anything but rather just be around. Often the right thing you can do is not to put foot in your mouth.
At the same time he was your biggest moral support at the Games.
No doubt. He was trying to take the heat out of the situation in our team’s apartment. At the Olympic village all the sportsmen were accommodated in the rooms that looked like apartments. Our team lived in the three-bedroom apartment with two people in each bedroom. Ole Einar also stayed with us. In the evenings when all the girls gathered in the kitchen Ole would throw for us ‘minutes of laughter'. He would show us some funny sport videos from the Norwegian TV featuring biathletes. It of course helped us to get rid of the stress.
What are the most valuable lessons you learnt from Xenia and Ole Einar?
When Xenia was born my world, my life tempo has changed dramatically. Thanks to my daughter I have become even more organized and focused. I started to fit in in the 24 hours so much more than I used to. I began to prioritize the right way and to distinguish the significant from the irrelevant. It appeared that during the day we waist so much time on unimportant stuff. Take for example social networks; it is far from the most important things in life. It’s better to spend this time with your family and loved ones, share with them joy and warm and cozy moments.
Visa is the official payment services sponsor of Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.