Interview with Master Oleh Ilika

I had many coaches and masters in my life. Some of them I followed their lessons in their gym, other mostly on the internet, but I understood, after many years of training, that real master are rare. They’re those who give you all of their knowledge so that you can learn better. The ones who inspire you. The ones who teach you how to teach. I interviewed three of the masters that taught me the most.

Anyone who knows the difference between a kettlebell and a girevoy also knows Master Oleh Ilika. Not only a recordman, champion and world class athlete, but also an easy going person who wants to develop the Kettlebell Lifting Sport, equally passionate of competing as much as teaching. Here’s the chat we had.

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How would you describe your sport in three words?

Strength, endurance, technique. While the first two might sound obvious, the third is often underestimated. Although, only technique can safely improve an athlete’s condition with better results, without the risk of early injuries.

How did you decide to become a professional athlete and coach?

Since I have memories, I always wanted to be an athlete and a coach. I chose this sport over the others during my military service. I was already “old” for sports like gymnastics, while in kettlebell sport also people who started practicing later in their life could obtain great results. This is why I decided to completely devote myself to this sport.

What’s the most important thing you learned from your coaches?

Unluckily I never had a reference person to be considered a Master. I never had a coach neither. What I did while competing was asking other athletes and coaches for some advice. I have to admit I’ve been lucky for the opportunity to compete and train at high levels. This allows me to analyze every millimeter of the exercises and see how it adapts to different people. I really learned a lot in these 25 years of career on my own skin and on my athletes one, and I keep on learning.

What’s your greatest achievement as an athlete? 

It’s hard to pick one, there’s been so many in 25 years and I hope life is reserving as many as I had until now. Having to choose, my biggest satisfaction was winning the Ukrainian National Championship, in 1993 if I’m not wrong. I did about 90 jerks with two 24s, it wasn’t an exciting result but it was so unexpected it thrilled me so much I can still remember it. On the same level of importance the victory of the Ukrainian Long Cycle Campionship. As the president of the Regional Federation I was in charge of the whole event. I had everything on my shoulders, it was a great stress. Also, having to compete in the under 80kg division, I lost about ten kilograms. In spite of that I got my International Master of Sport qualification, winning in my division but also over all the other athletes with 76 clean and jerks with 32kg.

And as a coach?

My greatest satisfaction as a coach is seeing Italian Athletes, particularly my students, on world campionships’ podiums. Another huge gratification was in 2012, when the Italian team won over the notorious Ukrainian team in Hamburg, in the Long Cycle Relay Race, getting the first place. Seeing such a strong team that I contributed to create, was really memorable.

What do you say more often to your athletes?

The most important advice that I give is to focus on a realistic goal and try to reach it without giving up. I also always remind to my athletes that the the commitment to improve their technique on the lifts comes first than everything. Last, when they get that goal, they should never forget the path that took them there and the people they had on their side during the journey.


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