Best Sportsman of October
Dmitry Bilozerchev: Bravery is Always Needed

November 6, 1987. Frankly, we didn't receive too many letters marked "Best Athlete in October." But all of our readers were unanimous in their choice - Dmitry Bilozerchev, and he alone! Shapkin of Dmitrov, Moscow region: "I simply can't believe that after such an injury, after two years of oblivion, Bilozerchev could again become the best gymnast in the world." A pensioner, Zoya Bykova, asks, "I wonder whether Dima was very promising as a child, and could it be time for Sasha Dityatin to become a member of the coaching staff?" So, today, we present the best athlete for October, the two-time world champion from Moscow, Dmitry Bilozerchev.

From an interview with Bilozerchev in August 1987, before the USSR Cup, his first time on the platform after a two-year hiatus:

Q: For two seasons we've had new names on the team, boys who have matured into men with whom you're competed before. Will we see the old Bilozerchev?

A: Now I'm training a lot, getting ready for the USSR Cup. I can't predict the results. But I don't intend to lose. I'm ready to compete and I think I can win! In the all-around, I intend to fight for the Cup.

Was it youthful bravado, or an accurate assessment of his capabilities? If he lost, he would fail miserably, and his statements would be called ambitious. But Dima, it turned out, just compared his rivals' looks to his own. He looked at himself from the outside. And he realized that he hadn't changed much in those two years.

He hasn't changed?

However, as it was mentioned earlier, Dima calmly accepted his 7th place at the national championships. He is able to hide his emotions. He seemed to be unfazed. But he was terribly angry with himself. In the old days, he was unpredictable. And as a coach I had "to include" the full power of persuasion, to exercise maximum restraint and pedagogical tact to restore his composure. As for ambition, he's had it "from childhoold" One time, Dima took 3rd place and suddenly burst into tears. He already considered himself a leader!

September 1974. Young coach Alexandrov went to schools in Tushino, searching for boys to join his group. He drove to a new area called Strogino. It was evening, and the PE teacher showed him first-graders who were learning their first lessons on high bar. Alexander Sergeevich asked the teacher to tell three boys to come with their parents to the gym at CSKA on the appointed day.

One came - Dima Bilozerchev. Alexandrov met with his father, Vladimir Nikolaevich, a welder at the Stroginsky Quarry. And he thought to himself, "Maybe I've made a mistake. This chubby boy looks like a mushroom stalk." The father said he wanted Dimka to play hockey when the time came. Dima remained in the gymnastics section and was in no way inferior to the other boys. He was full of mischief. Like the other boys, he was nothing special.

Nothing special? Why, then, just four years later he was competing in the First Category? And why did he begin to perform a giant swing on high bar with one hand? Many before him have tried, but decided against it, because it was considered a 'death stunt.'

But Bilozerchev showed this element while competing in the First Category. In 1980, the Olympic year, he won the country's championships in the Candidate for Master of Sport category. The next year he was Master of Sport, International Class, and he wasn't yet 15 years old.

Now he has "twin" titles almost everywhere - twice absolute champion of the world and Europe, twice winner of the USSR Cup, and he was national champion and Spartakiade champion at the same time.

He will turn 21 on December 22.

I asked our famous gymnasts, and kept asking, what is the Bilozerchev phenomena?

Some said, "like all outstanding athletes of the past, this athlete is the will of God," others said that it was his nervous system, and still others were convinced that "it's because of his phenomenal health."

In principle, all of these judgements contain a grain of truth, and it's pretty hard to get to the bottom of it. We ask: why do such guiding stars like Sergei Bubka, Tatiana Samolenko, Yuri Sedykh and Sergei Beloglazov shine so brightly? Why are they a hundred times stronger, faster than their competitors?

Bilozerchev didn't tower over everyone on the Rotterdam platform. Yuri Korolev chased him and finished only 0.025 points behind. That is, a bad turn of the head, a small step, bent knees. For such errors, a tenth is removed from the score. So, can you imagine how small 0.025 is in gymnastics?

It seems to me that Dmitry is not thinking about a possible victory, he renounces the earth and soars into the sky, and at that moment everything is decided.

At the world championships, the student of the Leningrad Military Institute of Physical Culture (he learns in absentia) in the final, last rotation - was almost flawless on the high bar. He had the most difficult routine than anyone else, and the one-arm swing (remember the 'death stunt'?). Dima does seven or eight elements. Sport is now such that it's not called bravery. And yet, he didn't perform a routine but a thing of poetry.

And then he was "the same" - just a guy giving autographs, cracking jokes, sipping juice from a white cup. And suddenly he looked into the stands and saw a poster: "Dmitry, you are the best of all!"

He laughed and walked backstage with his coach, preparing to enter the pedestal.