Belarusian track and field athletes twice win medals

Nadezhda Ostapchuk and Alina Talay capture medals at World Indoor Championship, in Istanbul

By Dmitry Kramarenko

Ostapchuk’s award came as little surprise, as the Belarusian shot putter arrived in the Turkish capital as the world season leader; her performance in the Brilliant League rounds was sure to bring a medal. However, she did have to settle for silver, with gold captured by her main rival: Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Until now, Adams’ best achievement of the season had been 3cm behind that of Ostapchuk — a situation which reversed in Istanbul.

Adams and Ostapchuk took the lead in turns until the sportswoman from New Zealand proved stronger — sending a putt 7cm further than Ostapchuk: 20.48m. Following her performance in Istanbul, Ostapchuk boasts a unique collection of medals from world level indoor events: one gold and four silver.

Unlike Ostapchuk’s expected medal, Alina Talay’s success was a true surprise. The sportswoman from Orsha has won various junior tournaments, and became European champion in 2011 while also winning the Military World Games. However, her best adult event result to date has been 5th place at the European Championship (held in winter), when she ran 60m in under 8 seconds — for the first time. This season, her time has been beaten by six athletes but Talay’s 8.04s gave her hope of reaching the finals. However, the situation developed differently.

Among the major pretenders for the gold in the sprint was 2011’s top track and field athlete Sally Pearson (Australia), the USA champion — Kristi Castlin (who has outrun Talay several times this season at French tournaments), Vanneisha Ivy (the USA), Tiffany Porter (Great Britain), and Cindy Roleder (Germany). In fact, both Americans and the German runner failed to reach the finals.

In the decisive run, Sally Pearson came first, with a time of 7.73 seconds. Talay began hesitantly but gradually sped up to finish just behind Pearson and Porter. This was a truly brilliant result, especially as the Belarusian is just 22.
An award was also expected from Andrey Kravchenko — the Olympic Games all-round medal-holder. Sadly, he was still recovering from last season’s injury, failing to show his best. Natalia Koreivo also missed a medal in the finals of the 1,500m (her favoured event). She failed to take the initiative soon enough, allowing her rivals to sprint ahead. Koreivo did reasonably well later, outrunning five rivals to finish fourth.

The Belarusian 4x400m relay team also came fifth. Anna Tapshulatova, Yuliana Yushchenko, Irina Khlyustova and Svetlana Usovich were just five seconds behind the winning British team.

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