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He is almost 22 years old, his height is 2 meters 6 centimeters and he is a member of the national basketball team of Kazakhstan. He was born in a sports environment, whose fate was to be an athlete. He came to basketball at late age.
Seventeen years for basketball is very late, in this age many players are already playing for the team of their city, region or even country. But the difficulties he faced, fear and excuses did not to break him. Every day he tries to train for a few minutes longer, improving his skills, his name is Vitaly Lapchenko.
– Vitaly, we know little about you. Tell me about yourself.

– I was born in the Kynar village, which is a five minute drive from the village Chemolgan, the birthplace of our President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Our village is very small; there are only six streets across, and two streets along. The population is about 1500 people. But, despite this, people in our village love sports. Many famous athletes came out Kaynar: Andrey Abirhaev, rugby fans know him well, he played in the Russian Super League, there are two twin brothers Hassan and Hussein Isaev – master of sports in Greco-Roman wrestling, there is a master of sport of weightlifting Wagner Rustam, director of the sports boarding school where I was too. And the greatest pride in our village, I think, known to all Kazakhstani sport fans – the world champion in Greco- Roman wrestling, Asian champion, winner of the Asian Games – Bakhtiar Baiseitov. We lived in the same neighborhood, he was an example for me to follow, I always looked at him with admire. I was 6 years old when he became world champion.
– Tell me about your family.
– My parents have three children. I am the youngest. Each has his own life now. But I am the only who became professional athlete.
– Judging by the fact that you were born in the "sports" village, sport was no stranger to you since childhood.
– Yes, I love sports since my childhood. You know, when you live in the village, you must be able to defend for yourself. I tried boxing, and went to wrestling, and played soccer. I liked soccer (laughs). Up to 9th Grade, I played soccer, got good results, even he was on trainings in Almaty CSKA. But it did not work out for me with the coach, in half a year did not know what to do, but the fate brought me to basketball.

– How did this happen?
– I started playing basketball very late, at age of 17. Until that time, I was generally ignored it. We had a section of basketball in the village. I always was tall, and I decided to try myself in the basketball. I came to a sports school, to the coach Boris Borisovich, said that I wanted to play basketball, but he said it was too late, but still gave me a chance: a week to prove that 17 – it’s not too late (laughs). And in 7 days I trained and after the expiration date they said that I play good. Talked with parents and went me to a sports school in Almaty. That’s how I ended up in basketball.


What is your first professional team?
– The first professional club was Almaty. I spend a season there, then moved to the Kasiy -2, played a season there then joined the first team. I played two seasons in Kaspiy. Well, and then moved to a superclub Astana.
– Please tell me more about your acquaintance with Astana?
– First, I was involved in Kazakhstan national team to participate in the Asian Championship; I did not believe that, it was amazing. For me it was like a joke, because at that time the season for me was not very good, I had an injury. But I thank Matteo Boniciolli that he still believed in me, and I was invited to the national team. I went with the team to the practice, and then the tournament. But I started the season in Aktau until the next game, then director said that Astana wants to see me in their team. Then I was surprised. The coach and director supported me, leaving the choice for me. I admit, I was very scared, I was not confident that I can play in Astana, the club of European level. I said that I would think. I remember, when I came home , and we were living in an apartment with Yagodkin Azim and told him everything, Azim told me the right words : "Vitali, go to the Astana without thinking , you can always go back and play in any club in Kazakhstan, and only in Astana there is a prospect and growth. Another chance you will not have. Through his words and support, I have decided to move to Astana. Now I’m sure did the right thing. I am grateful to Matteo and Valery Tihonenko that they believed in me, and gave me the chance to show myself. If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I would play in the VTB United League, I would have laughed in their face .
– How do you workout in Astana?

– Due to the fact that I came to basketball late, and as such I do not have the same basics of basketball as the others. So I have to work hard to catch up. I am grateful to our coaches, who work with me. I often work in George, with Novikov and Strebkov. Head coach Trifunovic also pays attention to me, tells me all the details and subtleties of the game. I am glad that being here, I learn from such masters. During this time in Astana I improved my skils, I feel it myself.
– In addition to the sport, are you still studying?
– Yes, I study in KazGU on sports department. I want to become a coach in the future. While I understand that it is difficult to work as a coach, especially kids coach. I do not see myself without basketball. I love this sport, I cant’ live without it.
– Do you have a personal life?
– I don’t have a girlfriend, so far for me the sport is in the first place. There are, of course, the girls I talk to, but nothing more. I’m not picky, I’m just a simple guy, for me it is important that they understand what I do and support me. It’s hard to live with athletes, not everyone can do it.
Do you think you are independent person?
– Yes, I began to live an independent life early. Therefore, I do cooking, washing, cleaning. Sports taught me.
– What is your best meal that you can cook?
– I make good baked chicken. Dmitry Gavrilov has taught me in Aktau, he learned to cook everybody (laughs). Fast and delicious!
– Due to schedule you have very little free time. Yet, when you have it, how do you spend it?
– I have almost no free time; I try to relax, to devote myself to domestic affairs. I love to watch movies. I am far from the boarding school; I registered in the social network, and communicate with friends or family. I try to read. I love books on military subjects, when you read them you realize how happy people are and that we cannot complain. We are happy people, we have it all. However, now I rarely read, I learn English, because the coach and the team speak in English and it is very bad when you do not understand.
– Apart from basketball, what sports do you like?
– I try to follow soccer, wrestling and boxing. I love to watch boxing, one of the idols is Wladimir Klitschko, I watch all his fights. I am still watching the "Ukrainian Atamans" all that the season, and didn’t miss a single fight of my idols Lomachenko, Usik and Gvozdik. They came to Astana last year to the final against our Arlans. Unfortunately, due to trainings I was not able to be there. I watch for performances of our Gennady Golovkin, he is very strong fighter, to be honest, I do not see any opponent for him at his weight, he is the best, very talented. Now I try to watch for the Olympics.
The most important and loyal fans that you have?
– My parents. They watch all the matches on TV, when a match with Neptunas was in Almaty, mother came to support us. Then I scored 6 points, and I was told that every ball pocketed my mother was crying. It is very emotional for me. They are my biggest motivation, especially when you know that the parents come and look at you from the stands. I try not to disappoint them. Everything I do – I do for them. Parents are now retired, and want them to old age met in abundance, to be proud of me to know that I support them. I always know that if I’ll admit mistake somewhere, the first thing that they will suffer. Therefore, it is always holding me, and I try to avoid this .
– Probably, you have a dream or a purpose of your life?
– I am a simple man; I do not want to live somewhere abroad, or to have a bunch of cars, etc. The main thing is to have stability and home comfort. Professionally, I want to become a key player in Kazakhstan. I am a patriot of my country, and even if I offered to play somewhere in Russia, I would have refused. Kazakhstan means a lot to me, and I want to be useful for my country. We need to develop the basketball here .
– Speaking of Kazakhstani players on your power forward position, is there a big competition, what do you think?
– I think yes. Well, so the main competitor, I think, is Anton Ponomarev, I think he’s the best player in Kazakhstan, in this season, unfortunately, he got an injury. Last year he proved to many people that he is the best, he helped Astana in the VTB United league, I also watched the playoffs against VEF where he played very well. Also there is a good striker Dmitry Gavrilov, I also think he is one of my main competitors. In the national team of Kazakhstan I look up to these two players.
– Well, but generally, do you have an idol in basketball ?
– There are two players that I really like. I watched them from an early age and never thought I’d see them live, shake hands with them and play against them on the same pitch, it was all like a dream came true. It’s captain of Khimki Sergei Monya, I watched it all his games and admire his throws, I am a player who also loves to throw. I like Andrey Vorontsevich from CSKA Moscow, Russian national team player, too. These are two players who play like me on forward position. I always strive to be like them. I want to play like them on high level.
– We wish you success and fulfillment of wishes in sport.
– Thank you very much.