Moscow recently held the Mentor all-Russian Forum. More than 10000 practicing mentors alongside with representatives from HR departments of the largest state-owned and business corporations, representatives of federal and regional government bodies, NGOs’ and educational institutions’ members participated in it. Svetlana Khorkina, a Russian gymnast, a Russian Honoured Master of Sports, First Deputy of CSKA gave her speech at the plenary session of the conference. She told about the role of mentors in her life. 

Svetlana Khorkina is a two-time Olympic champion, nine-time world champion, and thirteen-time Europe champion in bars exercises. She mentioned that she achieved such success mostly thanks to her mentors: teachers, coaches, and, surely, her parents. 


A sportsman has two lives – a sport one and a civil one. It is important to realise one’s potential in both fields. Svetlana is sure that after achieving success, recognition, and universal respect, a sportsman has to find themselves outside his job. Thus, one has to have both sport and civil mentors. 


In her speech, she paid special attention to her coach, Boris Pilkin, who supported her throughout her bright and successful Olympic way. Svetlana mentioned, that “For me, a mentor is a family. My coach not only helped me throughout my sports career, he guided me through my life. I am grateful for him, as he was there for all those years. I lived far from my parents at that time, thus, he basically taught me everything I can do now”. 


Discussing the qualities a real mentor should possess, Svetlana also mentioned her coach. She is sure a person who contributes to other people’s development should mainly be professional and patient. Svetlana Khorkina recalled a sports camp, where she together with her coach trained a new complex element. At the time, nobody in the world could perform it. Step by step, young gymnasts tried to achieve their goal. Of course, sometimes it was very hard. The coach helped them to actualise their aim. Finally, everything went successful. The elements are now documented in books and named after sportsmen, who were the first to perform them. 


One more quality, which is essential to a mentor, is a universal belief in victory. Svetlana told that when she was a girl, nobody wanted her to do artistic gymnastics. They told her she was too tall, slim, and had poor health. Svetlana Khorkina said, that “Against all odds, I became a sportsman, as my coach believed in me and our victory. He believed that we could do it. So we did, for many times”. 

She highlighted all her ranks, credits, and achievements as a result of collaborative effort of those people, who actively participated in her life, gave her knowledge, coached, educated and gave wise advice since she was a child. Besides, such mentors help Svetlana outside sports as well, which she enjoys greatly. 


Speaker said she gained useful experience working in politics, particularly in the State Duma and Supreme Audit Office. She had many mentors and teachers. Most of them became her friends. All the skills and knowledge she obtained are still useful to her, for example, in managing CSKA. 

Svetlana Khorkina highlighted it is essential for any person to have a mentor. She herself would like to be surrounded by people who can teach her something. Svetlana chose her main mentor a long time ago. He is Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. All the work he does to maintain country’s and its citizens welfare inspires her. Today he is Svetlana Khorkina’s mentor, though a remote one. 

Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Boykov