London 2012
Russia players celebrate
Russia's Ekaterina Gamova follows the entertainment show on monitor in Earls Court
Russia celebrate
Bethania De la Cruz helped the Dominican Republic to take the third set against Russia. Here against the block of Gamova (RUS)
Russia's Ekaterina Gamova spikes

 

Gamova quits the team after London

London, Great Britain, August 7, 2012 - Her giant statue, one of the major hit of the FIVB Heroes campaign, stands on the ground floor at Earls Court. Fans are passing by, taking pictures. The Brazilian fans smile while they get a pic like it was a scalp; the Russians sadly frame the statue in their smartphones’ screen. The giant Ekaterina Gamova, dressed with her national team jersey, clenches the Mikasa. The fans do not know yet that this might be a real souvenir. Because Brazil-Russia, the quarterfinal match that ended the Russian dreams at London 2012, could be the last match for Gamova with her national team.

London, Great Britain, August 7, 2012 - Her giant statue, one of the major hit of the FIVB Heroes campaign, stands on the ground floor at Earls Court. Fans are passing by, taking pictures. The Brazilian fans smile while they get a pic like it was a scalp; the Russians sadly frame the statue in their smartphones’ screen.

The giant Ekaterina Gamova, dressed with her national team jersey, clenches the Mikasa. The fans do not know yet that this might be a real souvenir. Because Brazil-Russia, the quarterfinal match that ended the Russian dreams at London 2012, could be the last match for Gamova with her national team.

“I will continue to play at club level” says Gamova less than one hour after the challenging game with Brazil. “I will take a break with the national team. I don’t know if it will be a permanent leave, or if I will resume after a long pause. Now I can’t answer to this question, but I planned it before leaving for London. It’s all about tiredness: I’ve been playing for many, many years. And all these rounds, the commitments with the national team, then the matches with clubs, cups… I’m tired, I need more rest.”

Gamova was introduced to volleyball by her mother, grandmother and an aunt in a volleyball family. She was 9-year old in her home town of Chelyabinsk. When she was 14 she joined the local club of Metar and started earning money, beginning in fact an outstanding professional career. In 1998 she moved to the well-known Uralochka club in Ekaterinburg (former Sverdlovsk). That happened in 1998 and a year later she was already with the national team. Ekaterinburg represented a key city for her life, even if she lives in Moscow now: that was the city where she became a world level player and where she met her future husband.

But when asked to go back with her memories to those days, when coach Karpol’s team welcomed her, she shakes her head. “Niet, no.”

Then she laughs because Elizaveta Bracht Tischchenko of the FIVB TV & Marketing department, who’s kindly translating her answers from Russian, is starting to act like her “when she was sixteen, and so thin, and walk dangling”. That makes her laugh and it’s the first time after lot of tears poured in front of the Russian journalists, thinking about her dream of an Olympic gold which disappeared in 114 minutes and 6 match balls.

“I think these Olympic Games were the best I’ve seen. Perfect organization, definitely the best I have ever played. During the tournament things were running easily because our opponents were not that strong. But then we faced Brazil and that was a tough match. We did everything we could. Maybe with less mistakes, maybe we could have played cleaner… But we lost.”

After London she will continue to play for Dinamo Kazan, having one more year contract. She would still learn journalism, aside from her life in the gym. “Unfortunately I never started. I did apply to the journalism course at the University in Moscow, but I didn’t have the chance to study really. Perhaps now I will have more time without the national team and a better chance to do it.”

Now that she’s folding her national team jersey, she thinks thankfully to all the persons who helped her. “The people who coached me: they were not only volleyball teachers, I learned a lot from them, as they taught me much more than my sport skills. Volleyball gave me victories and all the fantastic feelings you get when you win. When you’re on the podium and you hear the anthem of your country: that has always been incredible. And you can’t get it in any other way, apart from sport.”

 

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The commitments with the national team, then the matches with clubs, cups… I’m tired, I need more rest
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Additional information

With Russia, Ekaterina Gamova won silver at the 2000 and the 2004 Olympic Games, gold at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, gold at the 1999 and 2001 European championships, and gold at the 1999 and 2002 World Grand Prix. She was the MVP at the 2010 World Championship