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Sokolova looks back on glittering career

 
Lyubov Sokolova in action for Russia at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Italy
 
Lausanne, Switzerland, October 19, 2017 - Twice a world champion and a two-time silver medallist at the Olympic Games, Lyubov Sokolova spoke to fivb.com about her successful career, her love of volleyball and her hopes for the future.

Sokolova claimed gold with the Russian team at the FIVB Volleyball World Championships in 2006 and 2010. Those victories came after silver medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and in Athens in 2004. The Russian also won numerous titles with clubs in her home country, Turkey, Italy and Spain. She won the FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship in 2010 with Turkish club Fenerbahce and was a runner-up with Dinamo Krasnodar of Russia in 2015.

How did you get into volleyball as a kid?
Lyubov Sokolova: My first coach, Romanenko Vasily, came to my school and invited me to try volleyball. Together with my parents, we went to the training. That was the beginning of it all. I was 8 years old at the time.

Was it love at first sight with the sport? What do you love about volleyball?
Sokolova: No, it did not matter to me at the beginning what I did. For me, the main thing was to be doing something – moving, running. It was just fate that it was volleyball. In volleyball, I liked everything. Movement, excitement, team communication, team spirit, and being with friends.

Did you play it with your family?
Sokolova: Professionally, no one in my family was involved in sport. But my father loved playing in the courtyard at home.

Talent or hard work - what was more important in your successful career as a player? Which people/coaches played the biggest role in your development?
Sokolova: To become a great player, you need both qualities: talent and patience to work hard. You do not get a beautiful diamond without doing a huge amount of work on it. In sport, you need to put in a lot of tough practise to achieve your goals and become a true athlete.

The work of my coaches when I was a child was of great importance to my development as a player. They taught me the basic elements of volleyball. I received a lot of my volleyball education from Nikolai Karpol, and this gave me the opportunity to embark on a career in the sport.

You won a lot of titles. Which moment in your career as a player was the best/most emotional?
Sokolova: All these moments are priceless. I cannot single one out from the others. I had a fascinating and long career, with victories and, unfortunately, defeats. However, they are all bright and unforgettable.


Russia celebrate success at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Japan

How important was is it to play abroad in different countries? Where is your biggest fan base?

Sokolova: Experiencing the cultures and traditions of different countries, and the playing style in different countries, has been important. So has the approach to professionalism and the chance to study different languages. Apparently – I’ve never actually been there – I have a lot of fans in the Philippines. Maybe somehow I'll be able to check this out some time.

What does it mean do be a legend of the sport? Who, in your opinion, is the biggest legend in volleyball?
Sokolova: To be referred to as a legend is a great recognition of the work you have done. This is the person who sets an example, of whom people are proud. Being a legend is nice, but it brings with it responsibility.

How has the game of volleyball changed since the start of your career?
Sokolova: The rules of volleyball have changed a lot – the introduction of the libero, video requests, the changes to the scoring system, and the balls. But as a player, you get used to everything. For me, it is difficult to determine when was best. Time will tell. It is always necessary to change something so that fans do not lose interest in volleyball. And I'm glad, because I was lucky and played in different eras with different rules, and I remember how it was before. After all, the old rules never come back.

What are you up to now? What are your plans for the future? Will you stay involved in volleyball?
Sokolova: At the moment, I am at home educating my second child. In the future, of course, I want to work in volleyball. It's my life. It is necessary to transfer knowledge and experience. It seems to me that there is something I can convey.


Sokolova was a world champion twice with the Russian national team in 2006 and 2010. She also won silver at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and in Athens in 2004.

Where do you keep all your medals?

Sokolova: All my medals, awards and trophies are at my home in Moscow. I have a special, large display cabinet for them.

Do you still have shirts from your career with your different names on them?
Sokolova: I still have shirts from all the clubs I have played for. They are memories from my club career, which I will treasure for the rest of my life. And, of course, the most important shirt is the Russian shirt. It was a great honour and responsibility to wear a shirt with the word Russia on it, and to represent our country at the biggest competitions. This is in my heart, because the motherland is so important to me.

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