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Interview with Michail Rydnik

Michail Rydnik sums up the results of the World Cup phases "The Foil of St. Petersburg" and "The Épée of St. Petersburg".

Mikhail Rydnik, the Vice-President of the Fencing Federation of Russia, the President of Fencing Federation of  St. Petersburg, the President of the company "Open St. Petersburg ", answered the questions of Tatiana Kolchanova, the International Charity Fund "For the Future of Fencing" web-site reporter .

Summing up the results of the competitions, I would like to point out, that the extension of the tournament term allowed the organizers to hold it in comfortable working atmosphere. Do you agree?

Next year we will also ask to allocate 5 days for the individual and team competitions, even if  "The Épée of St. Petersburg" moves to the Moscow region city of Lobnya. I have discussed it with the representatives of the national teams, they do not object to extension of the competitions, because foil-fencers arrive to participate only in their programs, and the budget will not be affected. Let us hope, that the International Fencing Federation (FIE) will keep up the Grand Pris status for " The Épée of St. Petersburg" tournaments.

When will they inform, whether the tournament is going to keep this status?

FIE is going to approve the schedule of competitions for 2009 at the end of this year. After that, those tournaments, which get the Grand Prix status will be selected from the total number of stages of the World Cup. During all these years we tried to hold our competitions at the highest level, we did not commit any serious mistakes, and we have the experience of carrying out the World Cup. We hope, that all our advantages will be taken into account by FIE in their decision-making process.

In preceding year the tournament was held more festively, not at the Winter sports hall, but in the "Peterburzhsky" Sports and Concert Complex. This year it looks much more modest. What is the reason for it?

In the preceding year, the World Cup in fencing was like a master rehearsal before the World Cup, that was the reason to arrange it in "Peterburzhsky". As to festivity, the location does not really affect the atmosphere of the tournament. Much depends on the budget, which we can invest in the event. Next year it will be our 35-th tournament, and we are already thinking, how to celebrate this remarkable date. We would like to invite all the best fencers of Russia.

In recent years, there are a lot of technical innovations in the competition - video refereeing, wireless equipment, electronic information systems. Do those innovations bring in any difficulties in organizing the tournaments?

I would not call it "difficulties", itís rather extra attention to these innovations. The area, allocated to one strip, has increased with introduction of video arbitration. Before, the referee needed 3 meters to keep the bout under control, now this area is extended to 5-6 meters. Additional space has to be provided for the referees with the monitors. I believe, the next question will be about the effectiveness of the introduction of video replays.

You are right, thatís exactly what I wanted to ask you.

I have heard here, at the tournament, a lot of opinions, and they are rather different. In general, the majority of opinions are negative. First, the referees do not take responsibility for their decisions any more, and thereby, the level of refereeing is declined. As to entertainment standpoint, we've made a huge step backwards. The spectators do not understand, where the referee goes, they do not see, what he is watching on the monitor. Then he returns, announces the decision, which is unclear to a common spectator of the competitions. In tennis, for instance, everybody can see on the big screen the hit of a ball in the court, as if he participates in refereeing. I believe, that the elements of the bout should be clear to the spectators. Otherwise, this is the way to nowhere, the lack of interest from the TV, and hence, from the sponsors.

All three tournaments, held in St. Petersburg, are very important for all the athletes. They are the last stages in the Olympic casting, and in the women's foil this is the last stage of selection. Did this fact make the competitions more nervous?

Absolutely not, on the contrary, we are pleased, that at our tournament the intensity of emotions reaches such a high level. We were just speaking today, that over the recent 6 years, since the company "Open St. Petersburg" started to organize these events, the attitude to the tournament has been changed . Six years ago, only a few not really strong foreign teams participated in our competitions. Now, thanks to well-organized events and due to the deserved "Grand Prix" status, all the world fencing leaders arrive to take part in our tournament. This provides grounds to the hot competition in the fight for prizes, and thus, passions on the strip. There should be a lot of tournaments like that, there should be a system, which could promote fencing in the country. It is very important, as the World Championship, held once in a long while, can not add more to this sport popularization. We should bring the initiative to the FIE, to the European Fencing Confederation, which is headed by our respected Alisher Usmanov, President of the Fencing Federation of Russia, we should ensure, that continental competitions and stages of the World Cup in various age groups, not only among adults, but for juniors and cadets as well, were arranged in Russia. Thus, an interest to fencing will be not temporary, but permanent.

Are you ready to take the workload of a large number of tournaments, which are time-, effort- and budget-consuming?

I beleive, I have already proven, that my team can arrange the competitions of any level. Personally, as a fencer, I would be only happy, if I am authorized to hold competitions of various levels. Thus, it will be the system, which will surely provide incentives to promotion of our kind of sports in Russia.

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