Lausanne, Switzerland, May 22, 2016 – Olympic champion Aleksandr Volkov has said in an interview with Sovsport.ru
how he came close to retirement due to a knee injury but now he’s ready to go for another Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Fighting for the gold medal in London 2012, doctors had to drain 40 ml of fluid from his knee every day. But he played on, and it could have cost him his career. His subsequent surgery meant he missed an entire season – and his problems weren’t over as he had a relapse when he tried to make a comeback.
Facing another long period of rehabilitation with no guarantee of recovering, Volkov was lucky to find a surgeon who could rehabilitate his knee. He played a full season in 2015-16 and helped the Russian team get a ticket to the Olympic Games at the qualifying tournament in Berlin. Now he is preparing for the FIVB World League (June 17-July 17) with Russia’s national team.
How did you face the prospect of having to give up the game?
I love volleyball and can’t survive without it. I'm going to play to the last, as long as I can do it. Now I have a lot of individual training to help my knee withstand the load. But this is my life and I love my job.
When in the spring of 2014 you reinjured the knee, did you think your luck had run out?
I missed an entire season and thought about retiring, but I didn’t want to live any other kind of life. I knew I had to return to volleyball, so I was looking for specialists in rehabilitation. Thank God I finally found what I needed.
Who helped you and how was the rehabilitation?
A Serbian specialist named Andre helped me. He specialises in the rehabilitation of athletes after injuries. I was his first and only volleyball player. Andre tailored a special system of training, which was tough and difficult to maintain, but thanks to this system, the muscles are strengthened and the knee rests.
The knee didn’t bother you during the season?
In general, there were no problems. I can say that the coach worked wonders. Thanks to the work we did on technique, I played the entire season and held up physically for all the matches.
How did you feel being back in the Russia team?
I was glad to see everyone was happy I was able to help the team again. The team welcomed me warmly. We have a good atmosphere in the team – jokes, humour, everything’s good.
In 2012, you won the Olympic gold in London; can you sustain the enthusiasm for a second victory?
I always want to win. No one likes to be second, third or even lower. At the same time, retaining the title will be more difficult than winning it the first time around. We will try to repeat the result.
Who do you think will be Russia’s main rivals in the fight for Olympic gold?
Compared to the last Olympics, the number of genuine contenders for the gold medal has increased. Brazil, USA, Italy and Poland are all strong teams. And the French, I think, will make it to the Games and be one of the favourites.