It seems track and field events are ideal for summer, so some say winter indoor championships are not prestigious enough. However, summer championships take place once in two years, which is too long for any professional athlete, so ten days in a wonderful sports center “Olimpiysky” in Moscow was considered a good opportunity to compete with the cream of athletics. The stakes were as high as ever.
Belarusians have traditionally been taking three medals at winter championships for some time now. Three medals in Lisbon-2001, three in Birmingham-2003 and three in Budapest-2004. Three in Moscow — a gold, a silver and a bronze. Andrei Mikhnevich was the second best on the first day of the shot put session. “I set the target very high for the season, I am bound to be in the best three,” Andrei said before he went to Moscow. And he surely did his best to get on the second step.
— What went wrong?
— Everything was just fine. I aimed at Belarus’ national indoor record after my third attempt, and I was very close with 21.37 meters. My fifth was probably the best, although it was 0.07 meters shorter. The coach told me what the drawbacks were.
— What about the championships in Moscow?
— Great. They are professionals, and as for shot put, they probably got the strongest athletes in the world.
In women’s shot put Belarus pinned hopes on Nadezhda Ostapchuk, but the burden of responsibility pushed her into the sixth spot. There had been no great expectations about Natalya Khoroneko, but the 23-year-old took the first gold in her career proving that the Belarusian shot put school has a good future and not only a glorious past. The winter shot put championships will soon start in Tel-Aviv, so we are eager for the medal spree to be continued…
“We believe in out relay team,” the chief coach of the Belarusian national team Anatoly Baduyev said before the championships. He knew what he was talking about. On the final day of the championships the quartet of fast Belarusian girls dramatically won the third place in 4 by 400 relay losing only 0.02 seconds to the USA, which means chances are excellent in the upcoming European championships in Swedish Goteborg. We keep our fingers crossed until August and interview the best shot putters.
“Natasha was not stronger than Nadezhda, but she won because of the morale,” the coach of Natalya Khoroneko, Lyudmila Nikiporchik, does not really seem surprised by the victory of her student. On the contrary, the champion was shocked by her results.
— I never expected I could win. Of course, I was ready to fight, to get closer to the best, but there was no hope I will get the gold. Even when I was on top of the list in qualifiers I did not think about the medal. I took a deep breath, listened to some music and off I went.
— But now you can enjoy being a champion, can’t you?
— I don’t feel it yet, the medal is just a step towards new achievements. This was the best result in my career, but I am not going to stop.
— What did you feel there in the circle when they called you the champion?
— I felt a lot. There was joy, there was happiness. I also felt gratitude to Russian fans who cheered and congratulated me when I was running the honor lap, I was also surprised when I heard the national anthem of Belgium instead of our Belarusian anthem… It could not spoil the pleasure, though.
by Dmitry Kamenskiy,