I remember that when I first came to the shooting range in Mytishchi outside Moscow as a member of the Dynamo Krasnoyarsk Regional Council national team, I was very surprised that almost everyone – both the luminaries of shooting sports, and the heads of services of the best shooting center in the country, and even experienced canteen workers called Zazulin Igor. At that time he was already almost gray-haired, although the coach was only 35 years old.
Only later, when he got to know our mentor better, and even among the riflemen With experience, I turned around, I realized that they were addressing Zazulin in this way by no means from a position of superiority or neglect. This was rather due to the fact that a boy from distant Krasnoyarsk literally burst into the elite of Soviet shooting sports, as it seemed to many, out of nowhere and at a fairly early age. A great debater from his youth, an amateur in every matter to get to the bottom of the truth and overthrowing authorities, a man, as it always seemed to us rightly, who knew and knew how to do everything in the world with his own hands, Igor Zazulin became the champion of the country at the age of 21. Moreover, in the most difficult form of the competition program – shooting from three positions (prone, kneeling and standing) 40 shots from each at a distance of 300 m from an arbitrary 7.62 mm rifle. The shooting marathon lasted six hours, and athletes sometimes lost up to three kilograms of weight during the shooting. Back in 1955, the Krasnoyarsk resident managed to bypass the Olympic champions Anatoly Bogdanov, Vasily Borisov and other recognized favorites. So much for Igoryok!
– I remember well the awards ceremony at the stadium in Lviv – recalls Zazulin – even the photo has been preserved. I am standing on a pedestal in a champion jersey with the emblem of the USSR and a medal, and my face is down. (Smiles.) The impression is that the guy seemed to jump into the wrong place. Appreciated the victory, perhaps, only a year later. At the opening of the Luzhniki stadium in the days of the first summer Spartakiad of the peoples of the USSR, I had the honor, as part of the column of champions of the country in 1955, which opened the holiday, to complete a circle of honor with the best athletes of the Soviet Union. And then we watched the ceremony together right under the government rostrum, where the leaders of the country were. Among them are Khrushchev, Bulganin, Voroshilov and Budyonny.
Later there were other champion medals, country records, the gold team medal of the European champion, won in the Swiss Winterthur in shooting from the same arbitrary rifle. Was the Siberian anxious at a shooting range near an alpine resort town? Zazulin recalls that before the first shot, as soon as he touched the trigger, he was washed over him like a hot wave from head to toe. He waited a minute or two, cursed himself from the heart. Calmed down. And only then he got down to business. He knocked out 99 points out of 100 possible in the first series and got involved in a competitive rhythm. It was not enough to get on the podium in the individual championship.
– But I still remember Winterthur with good feelings. It is a pleasure to even just shoot in such a company: Tolya Bogdanov, Vasya Borisov a year later became two-time Olympic champions in Rome, and another team member, Misha Itkis, won silver at the Games. Taking European gold and becoming a co-author of the continent’s record is all the more honorable. I can compare that joy, perhaps, with the fact that in 1958 Rudolf Lustberg and I won four gold medals of the USSR championship for Krasnoyarsk.
There were other international starts in Zazulin’s track record, in which he climbed the podium, but Igor Grigorievich could no longer perform at the world or continental championships. 1958 World Champion and 1959 European Champion Anatoly Tilik from Dushanbe, with whom we once talked about Zazulin, said that he was one of the brightest, most talented and versatile shooters in the 1950s.
– In order to break into the national team of the country from afar, – Tilik added with a smile, – it was not enough to show a high result, you had to be a cut above everyone else. And in those years, many world-class shooters performed brilliantly in the USSR. All other things being equal, athletes were taken to the national team, for whom, say, the leaders of the republics, sports societies or the Armed Forces could stand up. And who could stand up for Igor from your Siberia? Think about it, guy …
Igor Grigorievich himself was thinking more and more seriously about his coaching career. I recalled my school physical education teacher Isaiah Moiseevich Shmukler, DOSAAF trainers-instructors, most of whom were front-line soldiers: Vitaly Dmitrievich Shishulin, Pyotr Innokentyevich Kokorin, Veniamin Grigorievich Zheltovsky, Ioakim Ivanovich Kadontsev, in whose “paws” Zhelin himself, according to the expression a schoolboy. And after a couple of years of training, he won the RSFSR championship, became a master of sports.
– They were wonderful people, not only experts in their field, – Zazulin recalls. – And Alexey Teterin, practicing sniper exercises with us, literally fell off his feet by the end of the training. We fired at a distance of 300 m, and he was running along the dugout on the target line from end to end with a runner target on a pole. Later I met wonderful mentors in the national teams of the country, DOSAAF, the Armed Forces, Dynamo, but I did not agree with them in everything. I wanted to apply my knowledge, experience, raise a student who will go further than me. Moreover, albeit small, but I had coaching experience since my military service, when I trained 18 snipers. We are still friends with one of them – Nikolai Malchik.
Having moved to Dynamo Krasnoyarsk in 1959, Zazulin became a player-coach. Almost immediately he trained the masters of sports Vladimir Astashevsky, Viktor Chebotka, Elena Sharapova, Yuri Epishin. The team performed well at the Dynamo Russian Council championship, and in 1968 it even took second place, losing only to the Muscovites. But this did not seem enough to Zazulin. With the blessing of the head of the regional council Ivan Mayevsky, Igor Grigorievich got into the shoes of a biathlete to help the development of a new sport, having experienced all its burdens and peculiarities. He ran 25-kilometer cross-country races together with masters of sports Boris Ivanov, Vladimir Platonov, Yuri Fedorenko and other pioneers. He even performed once at the regional biathlon championship, where he took fourth place. But to give “to the mountain” everything that he could in shooting sports, prevented the lack of its own shooting gallery in “Dynamo”. We studied schoolchildren in many places, for example, in the basement of the hostel of the Institute of Technology, where an inferior shooting range was equipped. And rifles and pistols after training were taken – it’s scary even to talk about it now – to a house near Kacha, where it was “stored” under the bed of Igor Grigorievich’s mother-in-law. Those were the times. Only Zazulin himself knows how much effort it took to create the Dynamo shooting gallery in the Student Town. Individual design was banned for many years, and Zazulin had to make his way to an audience with the head of one of the departments of the State Construction Committee of the USSR in order to get things off the ground, getting feedback on the working draft of the shooting gallery from the best coaches in the country.
– Thanks to the leaders the regional council Ivan Petrovich Maevsky and Georgy Nikolaevich Lisin, without them, nothing could have been done. Special thanks to the head of the regional Department of Internal Affairs of that time Dmitry Ivanovich Grabezhov – he decided all the cases of financing the construction, – says Zazulin.
And, as always, he is modest. Even in those inconceivable conditions, he managed to raise a student who not only became the world champion, but also the locomotive of the building of the shooting gallery. We are talking about Georgy Zapolskikh, as well as about the intuition and skill of Zazulin the teacher. Anyone else in his place would have ignored the ordinary information that at the championship of one of the military units of the internal troops in the region, the private Zapolsky defeated all the officers and then performed well at the division championship. Igor Grigorievich decided to take a closer look at the soldier: he secured the assignment of George to one of the battalions in Krasnoyarsk. Later Zazulin will say: the fact that their paths crossed was fate. Many excellent, hardworking coaches watched hundreds, if not thousands of children, but never met their “own” student. And a modest boy from the village of Peschanka, Kirov region, a civilian carpenter Georgy Zapolskikh turned out to be the ideal “material” for the embodiment of the experience, ideas and knowledge of Igor Grigorievich.
– When Zapolskikh was shooting, he concentrated so much on the task, on the shooting process itself, that no force could make him distract, – he called the strongest, in his opinion, the quality of the student Zazulin. – And he was also very hardworking and believed in what I offered him, was, especially in the first years of our cooperation, a sport-controlled person. At the final of the Spartakiad of the USSR in 1971, he and the Olympic champion Grigory Kosykh fired not far from each other. We finished the exercise almost at the same time and went point for point. The last shot decided everything. Gera, as we all called the Zapolskikhs, hit the top ten with the last shot – it didn’t fall apart, and Grisha only hit the top nine. As a result, Zapolskikh became the champion and record holder of the Spartakiad – the first from Krasnoyarsk, and Kosykh was one point behind him. During the shooting, Hera never looked back, did not look around. And he did not leave the firing line immediately. I got the feeling that if ten more shots had to be fired, he would have fired them just as well.
And the day before, Zazulin and Zapolskikh visited the Novodevichy cemetery, where the great people of Russia are buried. We thought about their contribution to science, culture and art of the Fatherland. And we stopped at the grave of our fellow countryman, the first climber to the peak of Communism, Evgeny Abalakov. And wow, the widow of the great climber, Anna Nikolaevna, approached them and asked if they were from Krasnoyarsk. A very warm, sincere conversation turned out. She became another link that strengthened the athlete’s faith in himself. And that the impossible is possible if you give yourself all to achieve the goal.
– The coach must create all conditions for the student, including everyday ones, so that he improves his skills, – says Zazulin. – Big sport is the hardest work, and nothing should distract the master from it. The mentor must be able to take on and deflect from the athlete all the blows that may prevent him from achieving success. Should be both a nanny and a strict, but fair uncle. It is difficult to be like that, but I have not seen any other way for myself.