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Many Belarusians wait with bated breath to hear our team line-ups for the coming Olympics in Rio

Challenge of selection

Many Belarusians wait with bated breath to hear our team line-ups for the coming Olympics in Rio, while coaches continue keeping some cards close to their chest

Alexandra Burykina on lifting platform

In the women’s under 69kg event, we now have three licenses to Rio, but only two weightlifters can take part in their previous weight category. Marina Shkermankova, a previous Olympic medalist, has been chosen by head coach Valentin Korotkin and, all things being equal, she’ll be joined by Dina Sazanovets (who won the under 75kg category in Grodno), with the third still to be chosen. Anastasia Mikhalenko, 21, seems the most likely candidate, having taken silver in the national under 75kg event.

Like an experienced diplomat, Mr. Korotkin won’t make hasty announcements, commenting, “Much time lies ahead before the Olympics, and anything could happen. With this in mind, we’ll continue our training in Staiki, which replicates competition conditions, and pondering our decision. Darya Naumova, who failed to perform well in the Belarusian championship, is still in the running, as is Darya Pochobut, who was obliged to drop out of the Grodno event despite her silver medal at the European Championship. They may yet manage to find a place in the line-up.”

On the men’s side, veteran Andrey Rybakov and world champion Vadim Streltsov failed to perform in Grodno. Mr. Rybakov isn’t on peak form at present, so is being viewed as a reserve in the under 85kg category, for Piotr Asaenok and Pavel Khodasevich. Mr. Streltsov had knee problems after the World Championship and is keen to take time to recuperate, so he and Alexander Bersanov will be ‘backed up’ by Alexander Makarenko. Mr. Korotkin has space to manoeuvre the men’s team, saying, “The men upon whom our hopes are pinned have demonstrated serious results. If we manage to keep them healthy and take them to the Olympics on top form, they’ll be able to aim high.”

By Alexey Grishin
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