Viktoria Pavlovich: Proper Parting from Table Tennis

Female table tennis in Belarus is for many years strongly associated with the Pavlovich surname. Veronika and Viktoria are the sisters, who have put this sport on a new step in the country. But, if the first one has been training the younger generation for five years, the second sister is still a leader of the national team. What is not a reason for interviewing?


If I did not know that you would come, I would have thought that I met Patricia Kaas.

You are not the first person to say that. Especially being children, my sister and I heard this. Mostly, Veronika was compared to this singer. Maybe, she still differs from me.

In any case, at first glance, it’s hard to know you are an athlete and especially you are 39 years old.

That's what they say, too. Thanks for the compliment.

How is it possible to keep this form in a busy schedule, considering motherhood and sports?

I think the reason is absence of any bad habit. Plus, probably, genes. And also unreal work and endurance.

In what way and where do you find strength and inspiration for this?

I am fond of table tennis fanatically. Of course, after happy event the child has come to the fore, but I have a strong desire for playing and training. Once this feeling disappears, you need to leave the sport.

Have you never had a desire to finish a table tennis career?

Of course, I have. Even now this desire sometimes appears. But, as you can see, I am an active athlete till now. Frankly speaking, it is more and more frustrating that I lose more often. Even having had a lot of experience, it's psychologically hard to pass through such a moment. There are even more tears than before. Well, I think that this season may be the last one. Olympic Games? Probably, without my participation.

Haven’t you thought about the reasons for frequent defeats?

Probably, you know that the balls are changed in the world table tennis. And I have just found the rubber, that matches to these balls and it is comfortable for me to play. You can say, having come back in sport after the birth of a child, I did not keep up with the passage of time, I could not quickly adjust to the modern realities of table tennis.

With what thoughts do you approach the table?

As earlier, I have a strong desire to win. And, maybe, I want to prove to myself that I can still do something. And the process of the game gives me pleasure. To play at the amateur level? You can, of course, but I want a good result also.

For today's Viktoria Pavlovich, a good result is ...

To be in TOP 4 at the European Championships. And then I will finish it exactly.

Are you ready to leave sport without Olympic medals?

Yes ... I have never been succeeded in this tournament. In fact, I think this is the most difficult competition for any athlete. First of all, psychologically.

You are fond of psychology ...

That was before. Veronika also graduated from the university and received a diploma in psychology. I have changed priorities - I am in the family mostly. I have abandoned even my hobby, drawing.

At some time it was even about the possibility of organizing an exhibition ...

When I was a teenager, some art school’s teachers said that you could be exhibited. Although there were other opinions about my unprofessional work.

Aren’t you afraid that, after having returned to the sport, you will miss the time of motherhood?

I am very afraid. But my family helps me - my husband, my sister Veronika. Of course, sometimes after losing, I think why I leave home, if I can stay with my daughter. But when I return, I get a support. And the biggest one is from my sister, because she knows me, like no one.


You see Veronika, who trains children for five years. Do you want to go the same way?

Why not? Perhaps, I will stay in the sport as a children's coach.

Could you say what the current generation of table tennis players is?

There are capable children. But, for example, we used to be "hungry". To buy shoes, T-shirt, parents had to work hard. And now children have everything. Unlike us, who were eager to train, play, today's children do not have such fanaticism.

Maybe, rivalry is a matter, as there is not one in Belarusian table tennis, isn’t it?  You may not do the work.

I believe that the matter is in the greenhouse conditions that are created for the current generation. And not only in this sport, but everywhere. We used to be fans of our business, we were eager for something. And now ... It’s offensively to see such reality.

In such conditions, do you toss swearwords?

I do not allow myself, it’s upbringing. Although in some cases you need to curse, raise your voice. And it makes me mad, that I can’t be tougher in case it's necessary. When they hurt me, I will not throw a punch, I will immediately begin to cry. And then, eventually, I start to think why I have said nothing. I regret the missed opportunity.

What do you regret about table tennis?

…about one lost chance for a medal. Before pregnancy, in 2013, I took part in the European Championships in Austria. Being in TOP 8, it turned out that only I was of the European appearance. The rest were native-born Chinese women. So I played in the quarterfinals with one of these athletes who played for Germany, the score was 3: 3, in the decisive set I led 10: 8. There was one point, you understand, for the victory, hence to the medal. But, I lost 10:12. It is offensively so far ...

Is table tennis now primarily a sport or a means of earning for you?

I will not be cunning: it is a sport due to which I want to have both pleasure and profit. I'm 39 years old, I need to earn, and not just to receive moral satisfaction.

Is it easy to switch from sport to family?

Since my daughter goes to kindergarten, it has become easier for me. There is more time to switch, to rest.

Will your daughter be also an athlete?

Maybe. The husband sees her play tennis.

As far as we know, the husband was at first your main admirer, and only then he became a spouse. And now, do the fans disregard?

To be honest, today I do not have any fans at all, everyone has left me somehow. (laughing) I was recognized in the streets before, when the results were. Then, naturally, everything went into decline. But that does not upset me particularly, for me the main thing is the results. Yes, I am not a public person, I am even shy.

And, as they said, not an adventurer. This is probably the reason, that in due time you had passed from attacking to defender.

This happened very quickly. Veronika started playing table tennis a month earlier than me, because at that time I was in the hospital. After discharge I joined her, we both started out as attacking. But after some time, for some reason, I myself wanted to go into defense. First I played with a racket for attack, the coach watched me. In the end, he decided that I needed to concentrate on defending.

So it's harder to reach big heights in table tennis ...

Yes, and I understood it. But I have incredible diligence and patience. This helped. Besides, I enjoyed the victories of my sister, I was happy for her. We are so close friends that the success of one is like the success of another. I was pleased to watch Veronika, I liked making steps, even small ones, in my career.

It seems that you are ready to be content with the small.

Exactly. I'm generally unpretentious. The main thing for me in the hotel is to have a bed and shower. The car is the main thing that to go. Telephone is important at least to call.


However, there was hardly any competition, on which you traveled with thoughts only about participation, and not about victory.

This definitely was not. Like any athlete, I want to win. The desire to get a medal, to be the first was and is.

And what about the excitement? Somehow you said that you were especially worried when playing at home.

It's still so. Our spectators watch me, they want me to win. It fetters a little. I will never even understand the expression "Everything is easier at home".

Does the degree of excitement differ from one 5-7 years ago?

Frankly speaking, now I have more fear of losing. I want to prove to myself that I can do something, but, unfortunately, it does not always work out.

In my opinion, you have already proved a lot to yourself.

Yes. But still this desire haven’t disappeared. I even do not know why.

Maybe, you want to leave table tennis properly…

May be. As I said, to take the medal at the European Championship. All ambitions will be met. Yes, it is difficult, maybe it’s even unrealistic. But I have such a dream.

You have also another dream - releasing a racket with your name.

I think it's not meant to be. A couple of times I hinted to the manufacturers about this. Why is exactly such a dream? Maybe it’s loudly, I boast, but I consider myself one of the best table tennis players of the defensive style in Europe. Two-times champion of the Old World, no one is. I will also say a little loudly, but maybe I'm a legend. Yes, immodestly, but this is my opinion.

How are opinion and criticism important for you now?

I perceive it more painfully than before. Often I hear "she is not the same," "it's time for her to finish." Previously, criticism gave additional motivation, but now it somehow offends.

Does not it bother you that table tennis was an unpopular sport some years ago, so it has stayed?

Highly. It really hurts. And this is despite the fact that for 20 years Belarusian athletes have shown good results. The same Samsonov is known in Europe, but we know ... There is only talk about football. This is an injustice in relation to the sport. The same wrestlers and oarsmen take many medals, but who knows? Few people.

So it happened historically.

Why is not the result in the foreground, but popularity? We came from the World Championship with a bronze medal. In another country, we would be met with an orchestra, but a representative of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism arrived at the airport with a flower. All the rest were on a friendly hockey match.

Have you ever thought about changing your citizenship?

In no case. I'm patriotic.

In that case, maybe you will fight this injustice after the end of your career…

As far as I have any results and achievements I make table tennis to be popular. And when I finish, we'll see. However, I do not see myself in the ministerial armchair. I'm not a leader, I can not shout at anyone. But I can say one thing: you need to change the system. Most of the money should be sent to children's sports schools. To have a large number of trainers, so that there was an opportunity to conduct individual training.

Under the present system, do you believe that you can raise the second Samsonov, the second Pavlovich?

On one condition: if the child has a colossal capacity for work and fanaticism, a love of table tennis. Then everything can be.


How do you feel to be a team leader?

To be honest, sometimes it is not easy to bear this burden of responsibility. And it's hard to give two points in matches. And the rest of our athletes ... But what to do, they are young yet. By the way, I remember about another injustice, with which I can not reconcile myself. All my life I am furious that table tennis is not considered an energy-consuming sport. They say that there is no a problem to get to the table and wag the racket. If they say such things to me, I can shout back. The difficulty of learning table tennis is second only to slalom. Traumatic danger? Joints suffer badly.

Do you remember the morning when you woke up and nothing hurt?

In my youth such a morning was, I even went to discos, and then I went to train. They had time for school. Now everything is completely different. It takes more time to recover. In terms of skill, aged athletes know almost everything, but to show this, you need to prepare the body properly.

How is it easy for you to remain a woman in such conditions?

I succeed. I like to put on heels, a dress, meet friends, go somewhere.

Is it important to look spectacular at the table?

Even more than before. And that is not just important, I am pleased when I look beautiful. You need to have a manicure, the skirt is sitting well. In addition, cameras are everywhere, they take everything off.

With what thoughts do you look at your photos on the Internet?

To be honest, mostly I like photos, where I express emotions. For me this is part of the game. I do not like phlegmatic athletes, who remain calm even after victories.

And do the thoughts about the fast termination of career cause sad emotions?

Not at all. I'm happy with my career, God grant everyone this. Maybe, at the moment of parting from the sport there will be tears. But while, I do not think about it much. I play and I will play. 

 Dm. Ruto, "Sportivnaya panorama"

June 2023
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