Kayak-paddling brings bronze medals

Four wonderful girls — Marina Poltoran, Olga Khudenko, Nadezhda Popok and Irina Pomelova — come third in women’s K4 500m on Eton Rowing Canal
By Sergey Kanashits

Touchingly, Olga Khudenko sent her love to her coaches and parents on being interviewed after her bronze victory. Crying from happiness, her emotions welled up. The women’s team performed brilliantly, and were so sincere and modest that I even wanted to cry with them. This is their first victory yet such an important and significant one; they held their long-awaited medals in their hands, as if they were a small piece of happiness…

Our beauties rowed heroically, especially taking into account that their kayak team was formed only recently and all are very young; a major future must lie ahead. Their captain, Marina Poltoran, answered questions from Eurosport TV Channel, while Olga Khudenko took the reins in the mixed zone, crying unashamedly in happiness. She admitted, “We’ve come a long way. We did our best and fought until the very end but never expected to win a medal. We perhaps achieved the impossible, which has delighted us. We’re grateful to our former and current coaches and to all those who assisted us in achieving this success. Thank you to everyone who supported us.”

Ms. Poltoran then flew over, as if on wings, softly floating above the earth, smiling and showing her medal: her first and therefore most important. She told us, “Everything depended on us; we made no concessions to the weather or wind as expert rowers had advised us that the weather can change in moments. We rowed our hardest. It has been our first Olympiad, so was very difficult psychologically, as we’re so young. We’re grateful to our psychologist, Yulia Kugaeva, who prepared us perfectly for victory. Thank you to everyone! This is our first major award but we’ll continue to earn smaller medals while proving to the whole world that Belarus is number one!”

The women row as a single entity, which is clearly part of their success. They are four individuals but put aside all disputes while training. They come from across the country, with only Pomelova hailing from Minsk; the others live in villages. This good ‘selection’ has obviously worked well. The popular belief that Belarus could never have a women’s kayak and canoe team has proven ridiculous, as coach Gennady Galitsky completely agrees. He asserts, “Besides anything else, the coaches have done a good job in keeping the girls rowing. In honesty, few women view this as a female sport, since you need physical strength, training with bar-bells, and spend a lot of time in the cold and damp. I’ve spent a long time trying to find a path to success, experimenting with various methods. Finally, I’ve found the answer. I used to work solely with men and, I must say, it was easier. Women require a different approach but we’ve managed to achieve success.”
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