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"Three medals is a good result." Vadim Devyatovsky about European Athletics Indoor Championships 2015

Has it been long since you last held a hammer in your hand?
About two years already. Though I do hold a hammer sometimes when training youngsters.

Is it a lot - three medals at the European Athletics Championships?
I’d say it is not bad, but we could win more. We have athletes who could have performed much better.

Alina Talay has changed the coach and the training method, as far as I know.
You saw her performance. She looks very confident and focused, and it is due to the good technic she has. Her results at the competition are very good now. By the way, her new coach is Austrian.

Still, do you think it is mostly due to her trainings or her personal qualities?
Alina Talay is a very good athlete, though she was quite an ordinary one in the past. And I think it is mostly due to the tens of years of hard work that she got that far. Athletics is a very delicate sport, and it is important that an athlete find the golden mean between the load of hard work and the technic. Only few have that level of experience and talent. I am sure her new coach has some new vision on the technic.

How competitive her results will be in summer or at the most difficult competitions?
I should say the winter season comes as a preparatory stage for the summer season. Everyone is getting ready to the competition in Beijing and in Rio de Janeiro, where in summer they run a 100-meter hurdles. I’ve spoken to her coach after the competition about Alina’s future performance. He reassured me that everything was going to be alright.

A new discovery for us was Svetlana Kudelich. She didn’t even apply for participation in the championship in Prague. She just came to the selection competition in Mogilev and showed incredible results. In Prague, she made a fantastic race, having undergone all the pressure from the other athletes in the race. She came second, but in my view, she won that race. Of course, we are expecting a very good result at the Olympics from her, though it is a long distance race – 3000 meters hurdles.

Is she the only athlete in the national team who competes in long races?
Traditionally, all through the history of Belarusian athletics, we have very good performances in hammer throwing, in all-round events and we have Olympic medals in jumping disciplines. But now we have another star in the 3000m hurdles. Before, we had Turova in this discipline. But Svetlana Kudelich has given us hope for victory in the Olympics in the long distance race.

Another silver medal winner is Yulia Leontyuk. Could you comment on her performance?
This medal was unexpected. She was a ranking leader of the winter season. The competition was dramatic. She was leading almost through the whole race, but then the athlete from Hungary gained speed and set her personal record, so that Julia came second. We all think this performance of hers was not a limit to her capacities and talent.

We also expect good results in Rio de Janeiro from her.

Whom else do you expect to stand on the podium? Pavel Lyzhin?
Pavel Lyzhin is already a mature athlete. Of course, we had hope that he would show a good throwing result in Prague, but he didn’t. What we decided to do is not to put pressure on him, and just give him time to consider and analyze his mistakes. He would tell us what had happened to him when he is ready, and then we will start the work again. We cannot afford being too critical or putting pressure on athletes as we don’t have many athletes that good as Pavel.

Is it true that Ivan Tikhon and Oksana Menkova would return to compete again?
Oksana is in training now getting ready for the Olympic Games. She didn’t have much success at the Olympics in London, so there is motivation to perform better this time. Speaking about Ivan Tikhon, it is true that he is now training and in a very good shape. We want him to return our winner’s place in throwing.

Do you think the process of changing generations has completed to some extent? Do you think it has already passed?
Yes, I think the most painful part of this process has come to an end. We should look only forward now and never look backwards. The atmosphere in the team is very cheerful and positive, and there are big plans for the coming competition.

Before the interview, we were discussing with Sergey the possibility of the European championship being held in Belarus. What do you think?
It is very important, indeed, that our country should host international competitions like Prague this year. This question of hosting a high-ranking championship in Belarus was raised by our President, who tasked me with ensuring that this event will be held in Belarus. We have a very modern sports complex. We have already sent a technical certificate, and some sports officials have visited it. Surely, we have all chances to stand the test and get the right to organize international competitions with the huge experience we have after hosting the IIHF Ice Hockey World championship.

The country hosted an enormous amount of tourists and all the services worked well. We have good hosting capacities with all the new hotels and infrastructure. Minsk passed this test during the Ice Hockey World Championship, and it can prove its capability again if an athletics championship of such a rank comes to the Belarusian capital.

So today, I would say so, we are taking part in a tender for the hosting of the European Athletics Championship. And I am sure it will be a big event. We have tens of athletes who can attract 15,000 supporters to Belarus.

Vadim Devyatovsky