In the wrestling world, it is difficult to find a more introverted person than the Olympic champion Adam Saytiev. Even his famous brother Buvaysar admitted: “What is going on in his soul, I do not know either.” That is why they wrote all sorts of things about the unsociable Adam, who never complained about the press: either a fighter in the company of militants with weapons at the ready runs through the mountains, then he gave up sports for the sake of religion. One could only guess how he lives, what he thinks about and what kind of person he is.
Years later, Saitiev Jr. explained his decision simply: “Journalists, to get a sensation , can misinterpret words. For them, the “fried” is important. And then, I would rather spend this time with close people. ” (He nodded towards his brother.)
“The only thing I do well”
We agreed to talk after practice. It was already coming to an end. The brothers were sitting nearby, the great Dmitry Georgievich Mindiashvili was saying something with ardor to the fighters who surrounded him. Adam came up and offered to settle in a corner of the hall on a bench. But this did not help much, and during the conversation we were interrupted several times. There were many who wanted to be photographed, he did not refuse anyone, he only gently asked to wait a little. By the way, it was not difficult to guess from the T-shirt how Adam’s lesson went. It could be squeezed out. Although I remind you: Saitiev Jr., unexpectedly returning to the carpet after a long break, could not win a ticket to the Olympics. The 34-year-old athlete fought fantastically, but in the decisive battle of the Russian championship he lost to Denis Tsargush.
– Adam, are you training at full strength?
– In 2012 I played at the Russian championship. And fought hard to win. I’m still in normal shape. If any injury doesn’t bother me, I can take any fight. It’s not a problem. If you have been wrestling for twenty years, then, of course, you are drawn to the carpet. Especially if it’s the only thing you can do well.
– You said that there are elements in the struggle that you do not know how to do. For example, go to the legs.
– Yes, I have not learned. I can show it in training, but I don’t know how to perform an element so that during a fight I automatically throw myself at my feet. A person climbs where he feels confident. There are people who walk well into the legs. If you caught on a limb, consider yourself a point. Probably, a wrestler cannot feel like a fish in water in any situation.
– Do you set any other sports tasks for yourself?
– Now there are no revanchist sentiments or goals that would make me feel satisfied. Although that’s why I returned a little over a year ago. I just sometimes watched the struggle and envied the guys, there was a great desire to go out on the carpet. In the summer of 2011, my brother and I started training. At the same time, I began to go to the gym so that Buvaisar was more interesting, and then it became addicted. I felt that I was in good shape. And I was asked to compete in the Yarygin tournament. I spoke there. Although now I understand that this decision was wrong, I had to fight in less representative competitions. You cannot immediately jump to the very top step, you need to slowly go to it. This is preparation. How do climbers conquer Elbrus? They take a certain height – they adapt, go up a little higher – adapt … But I was neither ashamed nor offended when I lost. At one time I showed myself, and in Yaryginsky I fought for the sake of interest. Not bad, of course. And then he took part in the licensing tournament, which gives the country the right to fight in this weight at the Olympics, and won. I was getting in shape. I already felt good in Russia. And at any next tournament I would be even better prepared.
– Obviously, there was not enough competitive practice. Did you regret not starting your preparation earlier?
– Yes, it was necessary to start fighting in tournaments from the beginning of 2011. Then there could already be a different result.
“Age made itself felt”
– You completely lost the first period of the semifinal bout of the Golden Grand Prix “Ivan Yarygin” to Aniuar Geduev. And then they confessed that “treacherous thoughts” had crept into my head.
– I fell unsuccessfully after throwing my opponent, it hurt, I started bleeding. And I thought: “What are you, old man, got here?” And then my brother helped me, who second: “It’s okay, come out and fight.” And in the second period I looked at it not just as an adult, but as an athlete: “I got into some kind of situation. Let’s get out of here. ” And it turned out.
– In the final with Denis Tsargush, what exactly was missing?
– Work for the opponent. He has his own struggle, technique. There are situations in which Tsargush is inconvenient for me, and I have not worked them out. I lost to him in Yaryginsky. But in Russia, I did not miss the receptions, but I did not have time to take the point myself … It’s not that easy. It is one thing when a person is in good shape, he can fight with anyone – no matter what technique or physical strength he has. He can impose his own struggle on everyone. You feel confident and get into the fight. And in my head the thought: “Just about I will split his defense, I will take points.” I had it. But the body did not obey, the age was already making itself felt. Not that coordination, not that speed – you have to work more with your head. And in youth, a person does not think, the body itself will make the necessary movements. It is like water flowing around obstacles. And with age, you need to think, then do the trick. It’s hard, you’re late.
– It seems to me that the American Jordan Burrows, who defeated Denis Tsargush at the London Olympics and became the champion, is an ideal opponent for you. You are constantly moving forward, creating pressure, not letting you breathe, and the American needs space for his favorite passages to his feet.
– It’s hard to say. I was one thing in 2002, another – in 2012. I do not know how our fight would have developed. Burrows and Tsargush are equal rivals. The American was more fortunate, his fighting style was more confident. He was physically better prepared. Maybe Tsargush chose the wrong tactics. But this is the Olympics. It’s hard there. A very big psychological load.
– Were surprised how the national team performed in London?
– Nobody expected this. They hoped for Urishev, Gadisov, Makhov. For the last three years, Kudukhov has not lost … Gadisov won the Yaryginsky, the Russian and European championships, the licensed tournament, defeated all possible rivals. But it didn’t work out here. There are such surprises at the Olympics. Probably, the national team has never had such a disastrous result. There have always been at least two gold medals.
“Once I didn’t compete for the third place”
– Remember how you arrived in Krasnoyarsk?
– It happened in 1994. A moment that is well etched in my memory. It was very cold. And my brother has been training in Krasnoyarsk for two years. We came from Khasavyurt. We had some problems in the gym there and we didn’t have training. In Krasnoyarsk, the conditions for classes were better. A good gym, you could train, go to competitions. Houses are harder, there are more different worries and troubles. And in another city, you can fully concentrate on the struggle and be closer to your brother. Now, of course, wrestling schools in the Caucasus are very well developed, but then devastation flourished in the country and there was no time for wrestling.
– Your coach Viktor Petrovich Alekseev said that at first, when you were losing in some kind of fight, didn’t leave the carpet.
– Not so, of course, it was. Any person is offended to give in. If he is not annoyed with defeat, if he quickly forgets them, then such an athlete simply has nothing to strive for. And if a person is upset, he will do everything so that this does not happen again, train hard. Then everything works out. There is no need to overload yourself, to become isolated, but it is important to remember that you have lost. When you fight, you put in great efforts, you do everything to win, but giving in, of course, is insulting. And when you were not particularly diligent in training, but went out at competitions, fiddled around and lost – it’s another matter. I remember one time I lost and for some reason did not come out to the fight for the third place. Withdrew from the competition. Of course, they scolded me well for this. Then I did not allow myself such liberties, I always fought to the end.
– From 1997 to 2002, you won all the major tournaments possible on the planet. What contributed to such a dramatic progress?
– At the age of 19, 20, 21, an athlete should already show results. This is the time when he is in his best shape. In 1997-1998 I won the Russian championships, but everything went unsuccessfully in the world, I was not so well prepared. I was moving into the 76 kilogram category, I had not yet fully adapted to it, I had not gained weight.
– Have you faced Buvaisar’s eternal rival, German Alexander Leipold?
– Yes, for the first time I lost to him – in 1998. And he lost without a chance. Literally a year has passed, and at the World Championships I beat Leipold. In 1999, I somehow trained more thoughtfully, worked on what I needed.
– At the Sydney Olympics, you competed in the category up to 85 kilograms. Your opponents looked like giants, they were much larger. Especially the Cuban Romero, with whom they fought in the final. There was no embarrassment?
– Absolutely not. I got into the fight and felt superiority there. But now, when I review the contractions, I wonder: why did they leave me? Why didn’t they break it? And how could I take them then? I do not understand. Maybe when there is good speed and coordination, it turns into more strength than just physical. For example, an armwrestler in his element will tear off his arm. And if you bring him to the carpet, it will not end well. In wrestling there is such a concept – “power coordination”. When you can competently use this, that is, apply pressure with your hands, feet at the right angle, then you double or triple your strength. It can be compared to a mechanical winch – a person with the efforts of his hands pulls a chain that lifts several tons.
– I liked how Romero reacted to the defeat in the final.
– Yes, he is a good-natured, normal guy. Admitted defeat. He easily lifted me with one hand, patted me on the back with the other. Like, this guy has won me now.
“I always thought my brother was stronger than everyone else”
– Did your brother’s achievements spur you on?
– Of course there was stimulus. There was someone to look up to. There are many people who train but see winning the Olympics as an outrageous goal. And when a person who has won all this lives in the same house, it is much easier.
– By the way, Buvaisar says that you are the best second for him, as you are an excellent tactician.
– I I was there all the time when he trained and won. I know the strengths and weaknesses of my brother and have always considered Buvaisar to be stronger than all rivals. When I took the second, I believed that he would win, and during the break I said to my brother: “Everything is fine, a little bit – and he will swim, you will win”. Although I do not think that Dmitry Georgievich Mindiashvili is the worst second for Buvaysar. He is a very strong tactician.
– Have you received any offers to play for another country?
– Oddly enough, no. But I wouldn’t go. Not because a super-patriot, but simply did not want to run away from this competition, somehow squeeze into the Olympics from the side. I wanted to experience all the difficulties, to win the most difficult championship in Russia, I was not looking for easy ways. I didn’t want to leave, I was fine here too, and starting to train in another country would be hard for me. Now in Russia there is a lot of competition, and it is impossible for everyone to get to the World and European Championships. It’s good that the wrestlers have the opportunity to compete for other countries. After all, a person can train all his life, but he never ends up in big tournaments.
“If you give weakness, you won’t become a winner”
– Why, after losing the selection at Olympic Games in 2004, haven’t you fought for two years?
– Even now I can’t explain my condition. I went to an immunologist, other doctors, but no one was able to determine the problem. Everything was in order: lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and the rest. But I train one day, and I absolutely do not pull into the gym for the second. Physically, I felt very bad. This happened in 2006, I won the Yaryginsky and the European Championships, and these victories were especially valuable for me.
– But there was another long break in my career. What kind of injury knocked you out three years later?
– Hernia of the intervertebral disc. I came to Krasnoyarsk in 2008 to prepare for the Russian Championship. I went out on the carpet, practiced, although before that my shoulder blade ached. After the second workout, I washed myself, drove home, and it grabbed so much that I could not turn my neck. It was impossible to sleep at night, it pinched my nerves and somehow pressed on my hand, which was drying out. All injuries are bad, but this one is especially unpleasant. I drank painkillers to sleep, and when their effects wore off, I woke up. Of course, at that time there was no question of struggle. You don’t remember that you missed the workout, you think: “When will the pain stop?” I went to Germany, underwent a course of treatment, it became easier. Then he let go, and soon he could go out on the carpet. But it took three years. In fact, during these long breaks it was hard, my whole life was spent in struggle – constant training camps and competitions. Thoughts appeared: “What to do now?” Go somewhere to work? It is very difficult to rebuild, this uncertainty pressed.
– What are you doing now?
– A wrestling school was opened in Khasavyurt. We come from there, mother lives there. And at school I start working as a coach, I try. By the way, this is very hard work. When I was struggling, I thought that the work of a mentor was easy – I came and sat. But if you treat work like that, then you will not get any result, the children will not fight. Now it’s hard to work as a trainer, you need to teach kids who can’t do anything to start from scratch. I always went to the gym with pleasure. Let’s see if what I like I can turn into my work, it will work out fine.
– Are the goals the highest?
– Of course. An athlete who has won something is an ambitious person. He does not want to concede in anything. Such a mentor considers the defeats of his children to be his own. When we once played football at training camps, those who played for the same team with Viktor Petrovich (Alekseev, two-time world champion, Adam’s personal trainer. – Author’s note) had to run a lot. He didn’t want to lose. He brought up in himself that there is only one result – victory. Once Adlan Abuevich Varaev (First Vice-President of the Russian Wrestling Federation. – Author’s note) told me an interesting story. When he first got to the national team of the country, he approached Alekseev and asked: “Vitya, what should I do to win?” – “Never show your opponent that you are tired. Not in training, not in competition. ” I remember this phrase very well. Although I heard it only in retelling, and not from Viktor Petrovich himself. As soon as you give yourself a weakness – write wasted, you cannot become a winner.