EVGENY SHENDERYface comm jan 2020.JPG


Please tell us about your career.

I am an expert trainer of the International Federation of Men and Women Gymnastics, coach of the Ukrainian team, USSR national team, Italy and Canada national gymnastics team.

Please tell us about your childhood and family history.

There was a war in my childhood, and I remember its first day, even though I was only 4 years old. On June 22, 1941 there was supposed to be a major sports festival in Kiev, with a parade at the stadium. But instead, people saw a German paratrooper landing near Boryspil. I was in the yard and, seeing people flying in from the sky, I ran and shouted: “Uncles, uncles!” A soldier in a green uniform was walking towards me, carrying a rifle over his shoulder with triangular bayonet that sparkled in the sun. He came up to me and gave a light slap, saying: “These are not uncles, but fascists!” But as soon as he got away, I continued to scream joyfully: “Uncles!” This is how my memory of childhood began.

My father, Abram Izrailevich Shenderey, was an electric welding engineer who worked on the Dnieper hydroelectric station. He went to the front as a volunteer. He, as a specialist with higher education, was immediately promoted to sergeant and taken into the air force.

I remembered him when he came home to say goodbye wearing a budenovka hat with a red star. Everyone was sure, and so they said on the radio, that in a couple of weeks the war would end with the defeat of the Nazis. I remember that an orchestra was playing at the station, soldiers were loaded into freight cars, people climbed over their heads to see a loved one for the last time.

When the Germans approached Kiev, they began to evacuate the families of servicemen. A small green truck arrived with women and children already sitting in the back. We were given literally two minutes to get ready to leave. My mother grabbed a bundle of documents and some food, me and my older brother Zinovy (now 87 years old, he lives in Boston), and we went together into the unknown. We drove for a long time and drove into a young fir tree. There were only two narrow intersecting roads. I sat at the edge of the side of the car as a convoy of German tanks passed by on the intersecting road, a few seconds after we crossed it. I still remember the deafening roar of the tanks and the imposing black and white insignias on the turrets.

We arrived at the Urals, to the city of Kotelnich, Kirov region. Constantly hungry, my brother and I went to the banks of the Vyatka River to collect river onions. Once, a large, majestic wild elk appeared next to us, who also came to feast on the same bank.

In 1943, Stalin ordered the capture of Kiev. The city was liberated, but it came at steep price. The Dnieper River was red with blood.

When I was around eight or nine years old, we lived in Kiev near the train station. It was a completely non-Jewish region, and every day my brother and I fought with the other boys, because we were Jews, and our faces took a beating. Once I was even hit with a surgical scalpel, and I still have the scar from this blow. For my brother and I, this served as an impetus to begin to seriously engage in sports. My brother took up weightlifting, while I trained in gymnastics. Our coach was disparagingly called a Jew trainer, because of the six boys he coached, five were Jewish. And four of these five had achieved various levels of success in gymnastics. One of the Jewish boys from our section, Willy Schwartzman, became the winner of a national sports contest. Harry Margulis was the first in Canada to open a gymnastics school in Seneca College with two training sessions per day. Leonid Grakovsky repeatedly led the Canadian team to the Olympic Games. The fourth was me.

After graduating from the Kiev Institute of Physical Education, I worked as a gymnastics coach at Dynamo Kiev for 15 years, where I trained international competition level gymnasts. My students were part of the Soviet Union team, but for obvious reasons, our achievements were always credited to the competition instead of me. At one of the competitions, the judges unfairly rated my student. Of course, I objected, to which they told me: “When will you finally emigrate to your Israel ?!” And so I emigrated.

I arrived in Italy, where on the third day I began to work with the men's national team in gymnastics. Two years later, I prepared the winner of the European Championships. Then my students became world and Olympic champions. This despite the fact that in Italian I knew only the word “ciao."

In Canada, my son Felix and I trained gymnasts for the International Maccabi Games in Israel. Our team took third place and received a gold medal for exercises on the uneven bars. The International Gymnastics Federation has awarded me the title of expert trainer in male and female gymnastics.

I want to add that I am very grateful to my wife, Ida Shenderey, who always supports me in everything and is a true friend.