Maria Kuchina wins the high jump in Moscow (Alexander Kiselev / www.sportfoto.ru)
Maria Kuchina wins the high jump in Moscow (Alexander Kiselev / www.sportfoto.ru)
  • COUNTRY Russia Russia
  • DATE OF BIRTH 14 JAN 1993

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Created 3 March 2014

  

Mariya KUCHINA, Russia (High Jump)

Born 14 January 1993, Prokhladny (Kabardino-Balkaria)

Lives: Volgograd

1.80 m / 58 kg

Coach: Boris Gorkov, Gennadiy Gabrilyan

Mariya Kuchina has a distinctive jumper’s stature. She is tall and slim, has long legs. But who knows, how long it would have taken for a girl from the small city Prokhladny in the southern Russian region of Kabardino-Balkaria to find her way to athletics, if not for a bit of a luck. Kuchina’s physical education teacher was also an athletics coach at a sports school. He singled Mariya out and invited her to join his group. “I agreed right away, because I always loved PE lessons. I enjoyed running and jumping, and Gabrilyan’s lessons were never boring, as well as our training sessions. I remember how I cried every time I caught cold and wasn’t allowed to go to training,” smiled Kuchina.

 

Kuchina’s specialisation in the high jump took place in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she realised that jumping was more than a hobby, it was starting to become a profession. That year the 15-year-old athlete won the Russian Youth Championships, clearing the bar at 1.83m, which is one centimetre higher than a “Master of Sports” standard in a Russian classification.

The following year Kuchina was selected to represent Russia at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone. There, she jumped 1.85m and placed second behind another outstanding youngster, Italia’s Alessia Trost. It was the beginning of a constant rivalry. “I wasn’t upset about losing, it just meant that there was someone, who was stronger at that moment. Moreover, she was competing at home, everyone was cheering for her. I was already looking forward to competing against her in Moscow, at the European Youth Olympic Trials in 2010,” remembered Kuchina.

Spectators’ support always meant a lot for Mariya and helped her to excel in the sector. “Coach Gabrilyan used to joke, that I needed a judge’s table and stands full of spectators to jump high. It’s not that I love to show off, I am a pretty shy person. But in competition the attention helps, it keeps adrenaline flowing in and makes me want to perform at my best,” she explained.

The support of the home crowd did help Mariya at the European Youth Olympic Trials, held in May 2010 in the “Luzhniki” Sports Complex. The event’s poster girl, Kuchina was dominant, equalling a personal best of 1.90m, while Trost was six centimetres behind. At the Youth Olympics in Singapore, two months later, Kuchina was stronger once again, taking the gold with a 1.89m clearance. Trost placed second with 1.86m.

One month after the victory in Singapore, Kuchina was dealing with major changes in her life. She moved to Volgograd to study at the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture and work under a new coach - Boris Gorkov, the one who led Yelena Slesarenko to her Athens 2004 Olympic gold (but wasn’t working with Slesarenko anymore, when he took over Kuchina’s training). “I still work with both Gabrilyan and Gorkov, they both try to travel to my competitions. Coach Gabrilyan actually first talked to Gorkov about my possible move back in 2009. My coaches are extremely like-minded, so it works out well. For example, I did most of my training for this winter season back in Prokhladny. There is an indoor sports hall with just enough space for my eight-step approach. And of course, it’s always good to be home, with my friends and family around,” Kuchina said.

 

Kuchina’s junior campaign started with a bang. At her third competition of the 2011 indoor season, in Trinec, she improved her indoor personal best three times. The 18-year-old athlete cleared 1.92m and 1.94m from the first try and then jumped 1.97m in her second attempt to win the meet and set the World Indoor Junior best. The previous record (1.96m) belonged to Desislava Aleksandrova from Bulgaria and had stood since 1994.

Kuchina couldn’t repeat this performance at the European Indoor Championships, where she placed ninth in the qualification with 1.92m. “It was the first time ever I finished so far from the top-3. It was a disappointment. Unfortunately I didn’t have my coaches with me to give me technical advice in competition, I couldn’t deal with it on my own,” the athlete recalled.

But Mariya had an important summer event to focus on - the European Junior Championships 2011 in Tallinn. In Estonia, Kuchina left her rivals no chances, winning with a personal best of 1.95m. “It was my goal to set a personal best, and I did it. I knew I was a medal contender, but I was still very nervous in the sector,” she confessed.

In 2012, Mariya once again won in Trinec with an impressive 1.96m, but third place at the National Indoor Trials didn’t allow her to make the team for the main event of the season - the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

 

For Kuchina it was more important to get ready for the summer, as she had had the qualification for the London 2012 Olympics in mind for quite a long time. But on March 21, during a training session, Kuchina injured her shoulder. For the next month and a half she kept working out, but couldn’t do any technical training sessions. It affected the whole outdoor season. Kuchina placed seventh at the National Trials and only took bronze at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona with 1.88m. Trost, for the first time since 2009, was better than Mariya, clearing 1.91m, and Lissa Labiche from Seychelles won silver on count-back. “Jumping 1.88m at the World Championships is awful. I had no excuses, that injury and a little rain during the final - it’s just small things. I can only blame myself,” said the Russian in the mixed zone, fighting tears.

 

In 2013, Kuchina only did one competition during the indoor season, but her best result and personal best was set indoors… in June. At the European Team Championships in Gateshead it was pouring with rain, so pole vaulters and high jumpers had to compete in a small indoor facility. This unexpected switch didn’t faze Mariya and she won, clearing the bar at 1.98m. “This competition has a different format - you can only fail four times overall, so I was very careful at each height. I don’t know how I could preserve some energy for 1.98m, but I was very motivated. And I had my principal rival Trost in the sector. Before Gateshead we were even, 3-3, so I really wanted to win,” Kuchina recalled.

 

The next competition on Kuchina’s agenda was the World Universiade in Kazan. There, Mariya placed second behind Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, losing on count-back with an outdoor personal best of 1.96m. At the Russian Championships, Kuchina was fourth with 1.92m, losing on countback to Yelena Slesarenko, and missed out on a team berth for the Moscow 2013 World Championships.

 

One of Mariya’s constant sources of support during hard times is her longtime boyfriend and a fellow high jumper Vadim Vrublevskiy. “He always there for me! However, we never discuss jumping. We have different coaches, different technique. I don’t generally like to debate jumping and prefer not to discuss a training session, once it’s over,” Kuchina explained.

Kuchina’s indoor campaign 2014 started on 16 January at the Lukashevich memorial in Chelyabinsk, where Mariya won with a personal best of 2.00m, beating the runner-up Oksana Starostina by 11 centimeters. Given the fact that the Olympic champion Anna Chicherova and the World champion Svetlana Shkolina weren’t competing indoors, Kuchina turned into a potential team leader for the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, as well as the World Leader.

In February she further improved her personal best in Stockholm (2.01m) and won her first Russian senior title, jumping 1.94m in Moscow. “I was so happy to win the Russian Championships for the first time! I also had some decent attempts at 2.02m there, but the competition was held in the morning, so I had a hard time with execution. There were many heights cleared on the second attempt, something to work on before Sopot,” she admitted.

The World Indoors will be eventful for the young Russian. First major senior event, first time stepping into the sector as the World Leader and… another potential duel with Alessia Trost. For now the record is 5-4 in favour of the Russian. “I don’t really keep track of our head-to-head record anymore,” Mariya smiled. “As for Sopot, I have a goal to jump high. Being a World leader, I feel the pressure. It doesn’t help, but my coach always tells me, that it should be this way: I should enter the arena feeling as a leader, and make my rivals try and get me,” Kuchina explains.

  

Personal Best

1.96m (2.01m i)

Yearly Progression

2007:1.73; 2008:1.83, 2009:1.87; 2010:1.91; 2011: 1.95 (1.97i); 2012: 1.89 (1.96i); 2013: 1.96 (1.98i), 2014: 2.01i

Career Highlights

2008

1st

Russian Youth Championships (Vladimir)         

1.83

2009

2nd

World Youth Championships (Bressanone)                      

1.85

2010 

1st

European Youth Olympic Trials (Moscow)

1.90

2010

1st

Russian Youth Championships (Penza)

1.91

2010

1st

Youth Olympic Games (Singapore)

1.89

2011

1st

Russian Indoor Junior Championships (Saransk)

1.83

2011

3rd

Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow)

1.87

2011 

1st

Russian Junior Championships (Cheboksary)

1.94

2011

1st

European Junior Championships (Tallinn)

1.95

2012

1st

Russian Indoor Junior Championships (Volgograd)

1.86

2012

3rd

Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow)

1.91

2012

1st

Russian Junior Championships (Cheboksary)

1.89

2012

3rd

World Junior Championships (Barcelona)

1.88

2013

1st

European Team Championships (Gateshead)

1.98

2013

2nd

World Universiade (Kazan)

1.96

 

Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2014        

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.00 Paris Saint-Denis 05 JUL 2014
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
High Jump 2.01 Stockholm (Globe Arena) 06 FEB 2014
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
High Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2.00 Paris Saint-Denis 05 JUL
2013 1.96 Kazan 12 JUL
2012 1.89 Cheboksary 20 JUN
2011 1.95 Tallinn (Kadriorg) 24 JUL
2010 1.91 Penza 07 JUL
2009 1.87 Doha 09 DEC
2008 1.83 Vladimir 27 JUN
2008 1.83 Krasnodar 05 JUN
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
High Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2.01 Stockholm (Globe Arena) 06 FEB
2013 1.98 Gateshead 23 JUN
2012 1.96 Vendryne 30 JAN
2011 1.97 Trinec 26 JAN
Honours - High Jump
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 1 2.00 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 08 MAR 2014
14th IAAF World Junior Championships 3 1.88 Barcelona (Olympic Stadium) 15 JUL 2012
1st Youth Olympic Games (athletics) 1q1 1.76 Singapore 18 AUG 2010
6th IAAF World Youth Championships 2 1.85 Bressanone 10 JUL 2009

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Created 3 March 2014

  

Mariya KUCHINA, Russia (High Jump)

Born 14 January 1993, Prokhladny (Kabardino-Balkaria)

Lives: Volgograd

1.80 m / 58 kg

Coach: Boris Gorkov, Gennadiy Gabrilyan

Mariya Kuchina has a distinctive jumper’s stature. She is tall and slim, has long legs. But who knows, how long it would have taken for a girl from the small city Prokhladny in the southern Russian region of Kabardino-Balkaria to find her way to athletics, if not for a bit of a luck. Kuchina’s physical education teacher was also an athletics coach at a sports school. He singled Mariya out and invited her to join his group. “I agreed right away, because I always loved PE lessons. I enjoyed running and jumping, and Gabrilyan’s lessons were never boring, as well as our training sessions. I remember how I cried every time I caught cold and wasn’t allowed to go to training,” smiled Kuchina.

 

Kuchina’s specialisation in the high jump took place in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she realised that jumping was more than a hobby, it was starting to become a profession. That year the 15-year-old athlete won the Russian Youth Championships, clearing the bar at 1.83m, which is one centimetre higher than a “Master of Sports” standard in a Russian classification.

The following year Kuchina was selected to represent Russia at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone. There, she jumped 1.85m and placed second behind another outstanding youngster, Italia’s Alessia Trost. It was the beginning of a constant rivalry. “I wasn’t upset about losing, it just meant that there was someone, who was stronger at that moment. Moreover, she was competing at home, everyone was cheering for her. I was already looking forward to competing against her in Moscow, at the European Youth Olympic Trials in 2010,” remembered Kuchina.

Spectators’ support always meant a lot for Mariya and helped her to excel in the sector. “Coach Gabrilyan used to joke, that I needed a judge’s table and stands full of spectators to jump high. It’s not that I love to show off, I am a pretty shy person. But in competition the attention helps, it keeps adrenaline flowing in and makes me want to perform at my best,” she explained.

The support of the home crowd did help Mariya at the European Youth Olympic Trials, held in May 2010 in the “Luzhniki” Sports Complex. The event’s poster girl, Kuchina was dominant, equalling a personal best of 1.90m, while Trost was six centimetres behind. At the Youth Olympics in Singapore, two months later, Kuchina was stronger once again, taking the gold with a 1.89m clearance. Trost placed second with 1.86m.

One month after the victory in Singapore, Kuchina was dealing with major changes in her life. She moved to Volgograd to study at the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture and work under a new coach - Boris Gorkov, the one who led Yelena Slesarenko to her Athens 2004 Olympic gold (but wasn’t working with Slesarenko anymore, when he took over Kuchina’s training). “I still work with both Gabrilyan and Gorkov, they both try to travel to my competitions. Coach Gabrilyan actually first talked to Gorkov about my possible move back in 2009. My coaches are extremely like-minded, so it works out well. For example, I did most of my training for this winter season back in Prokhladny. There is an indoor sports hall with just enough space for my eight-step approach. And of course, it’s always good to be home, with my friends and family around,” Kuchina said.

 

Kuchina’s junior campaign started with a bang. At her third competition of the 2011 indoor season, in Trinec, she improved her indoor personal best three times. The 18-year-old athlete cleared 1.92m and 1.94m from the first try and then jumped 1.97m in her second attempt to win the meet and set the World Indoor Junior best. The previous record (1.96m) belonged to Desislava Aleksandrova from Bulgaria and had stood since 1994.

Kuchina couldn’t repeat this performance at the European Indoor Championships, where she placed ninth in the qualification with 1.92m. “It was the first time ever I finished so far from the top-3. It was a disappointment. Unfortunately I didn’t have my coaches with me to give me technical advice in competition, I couldn’t deal with it on my own,” the athlete recalled.

But Mariya had an important summer event to focus on - the European Junior Championships 2011 in Tallinn. In Estonia, Kuchina left her rivals no chances, winning with a personal best of 1.95m. “It was my goal to set a personal best, and I did it. I knew I was a medal contender, but I was still very nervous in the sector,” she confessed.

In 2012, Mariya once again won in Trinec with an impressive 1.96m, but third place at the National Indoor Trials didn’t allow her to make the team for the main event of the season - the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

 

For Kuchina it was more important to get ready for the summer, as she had had the qualification for the London 2012 Olympics in mind for quite a long time. But on March 21, during a training session, Kuchina injured her shoulder. For the next month and a half she kept working out, but couldn’t do any technical training sessions. It affected the whole outdoor season. Kuchina placed seventh at the National Trials and only took bronze at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona with 1.88m. Trost, for the first time since 2009, was better than Mariya, clearing 1.91m, and Lissa Labiche from Seychelles won silver on count-back. “Jumping 1.88m at the World Championships is awful. I had no excuses, that injury and a little rain during the final - it’s just small things. I can only blame myself,” said the Russian in the mixed zone, fighting tears.

 

In 2013, Kuchina only did one competition during the indoor season, but her best result and personal best was set indoors… in June. At the European Team Championships in Gateshead it was pouring with rain, so pole vaulters and high jumpers had to compete in a small indoor facility. This unexpected switch didn’t faze Mariya and she won, clearing the bar at 1.98m. “This competition has a different format - you can only fail four times overall, so I was very careful at each height. I don’t know how I could preserve some energy for 1.98m, but I was very motivated. And I had my principal rival Trost in the sector. Before Gateshead we were even, 3-3, so I really wanted to win,” Kuchina recalled.

 

The next competition on Kuchina’s agenda was the World Universiade in Kazan. There, Mariya placed second behind Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, losing on count-back with an outdoor personal best of 1.96m. At the Russian Championships, Kuchina was fourth with 1.92m, losing on countback to Yelena Slesarenko, and missed out on a team berth for the Moscow 2013 World Championships.

 

One of Mariya’s constant sources of support during hard times is her longtime boyfriend and a fellow high jumper Vadim Vrublevskiy. “He always there for me! However, we never discuss jumping. We have different coaches, different technique. I don’t generally like to debate jumping and prefer not to discuss a training session, once it’s over,” Kuchina explained.

Kuchina’s indoor campaign 2014 started on 16 January at the Lukashevich memorial in Chelyabinsk, where Mariya won with a personal best of 2.00m, beating the runner-up Oksana Starostina by 11 centimeters. Given the fact that the Olympic champion Anna Chicherova and the World champion Svetlana Shkolina weren’t competing indoors, Kuchina turned into a potential team leader for the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, as well as the World Leader.

In February she further improved her personal best in Stockholm (2.01m) and won her first Russian senior title, jumping 1.94m in Moscow. “I was so happy to win the Russian Championships for the first time! I also had some decent attempts at 2.02m there, but the competition was held in the morning, so I had a hard time with execution. There were many heights cleared on the second attempt, something to work on before Sopot,” she admitted.

The World Indoors will be eventful for the young Russian. First major senior event, first time stepping into the sector as the World Leader and… another potential duel with Alessia Trost. For now the record is 5-4 in favour of the Russian. “I don’t really keep track of our head-to-head record anymore,” Mariya smiled. “As for Sopot, I have a goal to jump high. Being a World leader, I feel the pressure. It doesn’t help, but my coach always tells me, that it should be this way: I should enter the arena feeling as a leader, and make my rivals try and get me,” Kuchina explains.

  

Personal Best

1.96m (2.01m i)

Yearly Progression

2007:1.73; 2008:1.83, 2009:1.87; 2010:1.91; 2011: 1.95 (1.97i); 2012: 1.89 (1.96i); 2013: 1.96 (1.98i), 2014: 2.01i

Career Highlights

2008

1st

Russian Youth Championships (Vladimir)         

1.83

2009

2nd

World Youth Championships (Bressanone)                      

1.85

2010 

1st

European Youth Olympic Trials (Moscow)

1.90

2010

1st

Russian Youth Championships (Penza)

1.91

2010

1st

Youth Olympic Games (Singapore)

1.89

2011

1st

Russian Indoor Junior Championships (Saransk)

1.83

2011

3rd

Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow)

1.87

2011 

1st

Russian Junior Championships (Cheboksary)

1.94

2011

1st

European Junior Championships (Tallinn)

1.95

2012

1st

Russian Indoor Junior Championships (Volgograd)

1.86

2012

3rd

Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow)

1.91

2012

1st

Russian Junior Championships (Cheboksary)

1.89

2012

3rd

World Junior Championships (Barcelona)

1.88

2013

1st

European Team Championships (Gateshead)

1.98

2013

2nd

World Universiade (Kazan)

1.96

 

Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2014