20 non-handball questions. Anna Vyakhireva: "I rarely go to concerts. I’m afraid of large crowds of people"

10 January 2023
Another heroine of Handballfast author’s rubric — is the best handball player in the world, the Olympic champion of Rio 2016, 6-times champion of Russia Anna Vyakhireva, who is playing for Norwegian Vipers Kristiansand since last July.
1. I heard from Julia Managarova: "I saw nothing except the hotel and sports centre, when I flew to Norway. And I wish I could pass through the fjords, admire the northern lights, travel to Lofotent islands, where you can watch killer whales and whales..." Did you manage to bring into life at least anything from this list?
 — Not yet. Yes, I live in Norway already half a year, but I have no spare time. Training, matches, transfers. However, once there was an excursion to a certain island, organized in Vipers Kristiansand for the whole team, — I didn’t remember the name. It was very picturesque there — the old lighthouse, rare birds…
Later together with my teammates we wanted to go to see northern lights. But as luck would have it I injured my thigh and had an operation. The plans moved to an indefinite period. Maybe, it will work out in 2023. I hope to reach Lofotent islands some day as well. But they are rather far, on the north-west coast of Norway, and Kristiansand is on the south.
2. What is it remarkable for? 
It’s a nice port town. The view is magnificent especially from the sea — once I was on a boat trip and appreciated it. It is incredibly beautiful in Norway. There are a lot of lakes and greenery. For hiking lovers — long walking in mountain area —  is just an expanse!
3. What things haven’t you still got used to within half a year in that area?
 — I didn’t get used to the fact that Norwegians have warm meal solely on dinner. And a sandwich is enough for breakfast and lunch. It is unacceptable for me. There is a problem with soups as well. You can hardly find it in a restaurant, specialized in local cuisine. You have to go to a French or Asian one. Or to cook at home. I prefer the second option.
4. Is it expensive in Norway?
 — Not the word! On average, the prices are three times higher than in Russia. This applies to products in stores and prices in restaurants. It’s easier to cook at home. There is a saving.       
5. Daria Dmitrieva, playing for Krim Mercator Ljubljana, recently said in an interview: "Cheap manicure is the thing I miss most of all in Slovenia". What do you particular miss in Norway?
 — There is so little sun here. Sometimes you don’t see it for weeks! Plus, wind, dampness and heavy fog are quite common. It’s hard for unaccustomed. I really miss the sun! You look through the window and think — how do you want sunny days!
Speaking about manicure… I don’t know about Slovenia, but it will cost you approximately 70 euro in Norway. In Russia it is twice cheaper.
6. Could you stay in Norway for the rest of your life?
 — On the one hand, I feel comfortable here. On the other — I still prefer warm climate. In this regard I like Spain and I generally adore Barcelona. It’s an amazing city. Sea, stunning architecture, million of landmarks. It seems to be full of tourists. but there are calm and peaceful places, where you can wander for hours. People are friendly, relaxed, always positive. Measured Spanish lifestyle is exactly for me!
7. Barcelona is considered a world leader in the number of thefts, committed by pickpockets. Did you experience it?
 — There were no incidents. However, I am always losing something even without pickpockets — phone, purse, keys…
8. So, absent-mindedness is your feature, isn’t it?
 — One hundred percent! I try to do something about it, but it doesn’t really succeed. Thanks God, I haven’t had any fatal losses. Sooner or later everything came back. But I will refrain from details.
9. What dish will you never get bored with?
  — I really like grilled meat. And rib-eye steak is beyond competition! I can eat it every day! But I rarely cook steaks at home. I suppose, in this case it’s better to rely on professionals and go to a restaurant.  
10. What is the most disgusting dish you have ever eaten or drunk?
 — I am not the one who seeks to culinary experiments. If something is confusing to me, I won’t touch it. For example, several year ago the tournament organizers in Japan offered us a century egg. It’s a local speciality. I didn’t dare to try it. Neither its appearance, nor its smell inspired confidence. It’s even scary to imagine what it tastes like.
11. How many tattoos do you have?
 — One. I’ve been thinking a lot, what to beat. And finally last year I made up my mind. I came to a tattoo studio and asked the master to beat on my hand «all right». This word has many meanings. It helps me personally to calm down.    
12. The former captain of football club Zenit Vladislav Radimov told me how he celebrated his birthday six years ago in Saint-Petersburg: "Kostya Zyryanov, Vova Beschastnykh were in a restaurant, Dima Hokhlov and Vasya Utkin came from Moscow. I also invited Anya Vyakhireva, we’ve been friends for a long time. But she went to a game in Norway. The party was coming to an end, when two policemen entered the hall. They busted three men, sitting peacefully at the next table. They twisted their arms and put handcuffs on them. Everyone was shocked. Hokhlov and Beschastnykh got up, another second — and they would have rushed to help. When suddenly the policemen together with the arrested behind my back started to sing in well-posed voices a song: "Captain, smile..." And a cake with a huge red shrimp made of cream appeared from somewhere out of the ground. They whispered: "It is from Vyakhireva". I called her immediately: "Thank you, Anya. Although, you’re a ninny. It’s the end of the evening, guests are heated. Someone from guys could have fit in, beat your «policemen». Were you offered such a scenery in the agency?
 — No, it was my idea. Since I wasn’t able to come to Vlad’s birthday, I wanted to make a certain mark, make something funny, I decided to arrange a surprise. I found an agency in Saint-Petersburg that specializes on organizing pranks and unusual congratulations. I call them, explained my idea. We corrected some details — and that’s what happened. I even watched the video later. But it looked worse, than Vlad’s story about that evening.
13. Have you ever been pranked?
 — No, I haven’t. And there’s no need to. My friends know, that I don’t really like surprises. 
14. What’s the most extreme thing you have ever allowed yourself?
 — Roller coaster. I’ve been wanting to jump with a parachute, on a bungee and try something else extreme. But as a professional sportsman I completely understand that I can’t endanger my own health. As soon as I finish my career, I will make the most of it! Of course, if the desire won’t disappear by this time…
15. Do you have any phobias?
 — I’m afraid of large crowds of people. That is the reason why I avoid public transport, rarely attend concerts. Being there with someone else is tolerable. And if I’m alone, I can panic.
16. You once said: "I would talk to Stephen King with pleasure, when choosing from celebrities". Do you like his novels so much?
 — Well, let us say — they are quite peculiar. Moreover, King himself seems to be a bit insane. That’s why it would be interesting to talk to him. Just to understand, what’s in his head, what is he thinking about.
Probably, I have no favorite writer, as well as favorite genre. I read different literature. From the recent I would mention "Vanity Fair" by William Thackeray. It’s a funny book, a thick one, but I devoured it in one gulp.
17. What would you recommend from film novelties?
 — "Bullet train", a comedy thriller with Brad Pitt. I watched it recently in a plane. It’s a funny movie, with humor and action… From series I can mark a crime drama "Breaking Bad". It’s just great! And if I want to relax, keep my mind off things, I switch on "Friends". An good old sitcom, which can be revisited again and again.  
18. And what film among the recently seen you wouldn’t watch a second time for sure?
 — "Dogville" by Lars von Trier. It’s a very heavy movie. Although I liked it. The film isn’t new, it was released in 2003. But it caught my eye only a year and a half ago. That’s for the better. I wouldn’t have understood anything, if I had watched it earlier. By the way, when watching movies I always choose original dubbing with English subtitles.
19. And a couple of traditional questions. A famous tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov once told me: "I can’t stand blondies and cognac". What do you dislike?
 — Regarding food I don’t like coriander. And the same cognac. And matcha, a Japanese powdered green tea. I tried once and understood — I won’t do it again. The taste is disgusting!
I can’t stand insincerity and deceit in people. And I never owe anything. If I really want something and don’t have enough money, it’s better to strain and save, than to ask someone.
​​​​​​​20. A six-time World Champion in swimming Yulia Efimova said on one occasion: "I’m harmful, hot-tempered and stubborn". Can you characterize yourself in three words?
 —Uh… I will limit myself to two words. I’m honest and closed.
​​​​​​​*Author is Sport Express observer, specially for Handballfast
Photo: social networks of Anna Vyakhireva
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