By Yuri Karpenko
The current European champion arrived in Tatarstan’s capital ranked among the favourites; it seems there are no serious rivals remaining for her on the continent. The recent World Championship, held in Turkey in September, only proved the fact that this weight category is more ‘familiar’ for Asian athletes. In Antalya, Anastasia came second, loosing to Chinese Deng Wei and defeating Jong Chun Mi of North Korea. Her nearest European rival — Yulia Kalina of Ukraine — came fifth after losing to Novikova by 13kg in the sum of the double event.
The Ukrainian sportswoman wasn’t at the Kazan event and nor was Marieta Gotfryd of Poland. Russians Marina Shainova and Svetlana Tsurakeva have shifted to a heavier category, leaving Novikova only facing highly experienced Romela Begaj of Albania as a true rival. Begaj won silver a year ago in Minsk. In April 2010, Novikova astonished many in the Belarusian capital by setting a European record of 238kg in total. Anastasia was greatly anticipated on the platform in Kazan, with her coaches announcing her good form beforehand.
Novikova decided everything in her first attempts, both in the jerk and in the snatch. None of her rivals came even close. Anastasia only struggled with the barbell, with one failure, during her third attempt in the jerk. It can be difficult to enter the platform three times in a row without a break, while the absence of worthy rivals also influences motivation.
However, the Belarusian athlete outstripped her closest rival by 25kg, even in such a moderate situation. Anastasia’s results were 100kg in the jerk and 125kg in the snatch, leaving her just 13kg behind her European record in Minsk.
The season’s major event — the World Championship — still lies ahead. Naturally, the Belarusian intends to do her best. She has many times taken silver but wishes to rid herself of the prefix of ‘vice-champion’.
Another Belarusian athlete also performed in the same category — last year’s European junior champion, Natalia Kolos. She boasts perfect potential, yet lacks experience and steady nerves. However, sixth position among adults is a worthy result and a good stepping off point for future success.