For the past ten years, the name Luchia Egermann has been a synonym for success in every respect. We talked with Austria’s Rhythmic Gymnastics national coach about the competition year 2014, new talents and the future.
.. Luchia, with the Grand Prix Final in Innsbruck this Rhythmic Gymnastics competition year is coming to an end. How was 2014 for the Austrian National Team?
We made a great leap forward this year. The results at the 2014 World Championships were much better than those achieved in Kiev last year. Nici Ruprecht finished 15 ranks higher and missed the all-around finals by a mere 0.02 points. Natascha Wegscheider improved considerably, too. I am really proud of the girls and happiest about the fact that Nici now really belongs to the world class.
..Nicol Ruprecht is a candidate for the Olympic Games. How do you see her chances, what is special about her?
She has a strong personality which also comes across in her expression on the carpet. She has got all prerequisites for a world class gymnast: flexibility, a good technical basis and this little extra, the special something it needs. Yet, the years to come will not be easy for her. The world’s top 30 are extremely strong.
.. Last year the European Championships were held in Vienna, the year before the Grand Prix took place in Vorarlberg. What does it mean for this sport to have such big, renowned events in Austria?
It is proof that Rhythmic Gymnastics has a certain tradition. That’s great for the girls. On this occasion I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers whose enormous engagement makes these competitions possible. Petra Gabrielli in Tyrol, Gabriela Welkow-Jusek of the Austrian Gymnastics Federation and Annires Marchetti in Vorarlberg: I am glad that we have these devoted women in Austria who are so committed to our sport!
.. World-class competitions like this also help make Rhythmic Gymnastics more popular.
Absolutely! Events like these are very helpful. All countries that want to remain on the top organize several major competitions every year, like France with 3 top tournaments per year. This is essential to attract more young gymnasts to the clubs.
.. Nevertheless, Rhythmic Gymnastics is a minority sport in Austria. What else is essential to promote it?
We would need more TV and general media coverage. In Austria, Rhythmic Gymnastics is not widely known, we strongly lag behind other countries in this respect. I regret to say that the basic conditions are far from ideal. We lack money for sports development, not only in Rhythmic Gymnastics. Coming to Austria from abroad, I was shocked to see that it is not an ideal ground for many competitive sports. If we want to win medals at Olympic Games, we have to put much more effort into the basic work with young athletes.
.. Talking of young athletes, the future, how is the situation in Austria?
We will see. For a rhythmic gymnast to make it to the top, a comprehensive package is required: talent, physical prerequisites, hard work, mental strength, good training conditions, and so on. It is not sufficient to just be flexible. Full support from the family is equally important.
.. What do you expect from your gymnasts at the Grand Prix in Innsbruck?
My goal is for Nici to reach the finals without a wild card. I know she can do it.
.. Thank you for the interview!