Tatyana Lebedeva (Getty Images)
Tatyana Lebedeva (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Russia Russia
  • DATE OF BIRTH 21 JUL 1976


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.


Updated 6 August 2008

Tatyana LEBEDEVA, Russia (Long Jump/Triple Jump)

Born: 21 July 1976, Sterlitamak, Bashkiriya
Lives: Volgograd.
1.73 / 63kg
Coach: Vyacheslav Dogonkin.

“I can’t imagine my life without athletics,” Tatyana Lebedeva says. And it’s hard to imagine modern athletics without Lebedeva. It’s not even the thing of her titles – Olympic champion and reigning World champion in the Long Jump, twice World Champion and World indoor record holder in the Triple Jump, Golden League jackpot winner 2005 etc. It is the thing of her personality. First place at the World Championships five months after childbirth, parachute jumps and crazy hair styles, Indian philosophy studies and charity actions for sick kids – this is Lebedeva, Bright and original, purposeful and thoughtful.

Year 2000, Sydney: first Olympic Games in Lebedeva’s career. She came to these Games as a favourite, with aa considerable season’s lead at 15.32m. The favourite’s status became questionable after only the first attempt, when Bulgarian Teresa Marinova jumped 15.00. Lebedeva fought until the very end. At her 5th attempt she jumped 15.00. One attempt left – and the last chance for Lebedeva to become the Olympic champion.

“Before my last attempt I so much wanted to listen to the national anthem,” Lebedeva said. “There was the victory ceremony for our high jumper, Sergey Klyugin, at the time. I wanted to wait until the end of it, but organisers called me out to jump before the start. To be honest, I just did not manage to concentrate. I did not realise my chance. But I was sure I would make my conclusions and take revenge.” The revenge took place very soon – in the 2001 at the World Championships, in Edmonton. Lebedeva was unbeaten with a 15.25 leap.

Year 2003, Birmingham: first World Indoor Championships for Lebedeva after childbirth. She gave birth to her daughter, Nastya, in September 2002, and already in March 2003 competed in the World Indoors! She was far from the medals with only a 14.09 jump, but her comeback to the international scene five months after giving birth was exceptional. “Before I was dreaming about the pregnancy like lying on the bed and doing nothing,” Lebedeva smiled. “But, when I got pregnant, I missed sports so much.  I even saw jumps in my dreams! On the tenth day after Nastya’s birth I was walking her in a carriage near the stadium. I could not stand the temptation to come to say ‘hello’ to my coach and my fellows. Athletes from my training group, half joking, called me to join them. And what do you think – on the next day I put on my sports clothes, let Nastya in the carriage stay nearby, and started training.”

Lebedeva’s wish to compete in the indoor season was considered another joke. “My coach said I was crazy”, Lebedeva said. She was not in a hurry to win but she just had so much energy that could not wait. For this energy, and huge training volumes, she was described as “a person with electronic batteries”. These batteries kept her going and facilitated plans that any other person would consider impossible.

Year 2003, Moscow: combining Triple Jump with the Long Jump is not a new idea but Lebedeva is one of the few who has done this at the highest level. She first tried the Long Jump in a major competition at the Russian Challenge in Moscow, some weeks after the victorious World Championships in Paris. The reason was simple – the Triple Jump was not on the programme but Lebedeva wanted to fight for the prize money and compete before her home public after her big international win.

The results in the Long Jump exceeded expectations – 6.82 and the first place. “I am so grateful to my manager, Aivar Karotamm, who suggested I do Long jump in Moscow,” Lebedeva said. “After Paris I was very self-confident and decided to try. Actually, after the Triple Jump, the Long Jump seems so easy! If I was rational, of course, I would have switched to Long Jump long ago. But I have my own goals and ambitions and do not want to follow the easiest way.”

Year 2004, Athens: the second chapter of Lebedeva’s Olympic story and this time it was about willpower. Lebedeva came to the Olympics as a hot favourite and reigning World champion in Triple Jump. But, as in Sydney, she did not manage her best performance at the most important moment. “I was all the way repeating to myself that I must win,” Lebedeva explained. “I could not get rid of these thoughts. That’s why I did not manage to jump far at the first attempt I panicked. I was not mentally ready that something could go wrong.”

Lebedeva’s bad luck was that her bad day coincided with the inspiration that came to the Cameroonian Francoise Mbango. Five jumps over 15m – and Lebedeva, with a 15.14 leap in the fifth round, was only third. This bronze was undoubtedly a defeat. “For me only the first place exists,” Lebedeva whispered at the victory ceremony.

In Athens, Lebedeva had one remaining chance – in the Long Jump – to prove her ambitions. And she had only one and a half days before the qualification round to recover and leave all negative emotions behind. Lebedeva found inspiration in her friend from the same town of Volgograd – Yelena Isinbaeva.

“The day after my bronze I was watching Lena’s Olympic final,” Lebedeva recalled. “She was struggling at the beginning, could not pull herself together and finally was only one attempt away from losing. And, at this particular moment, I saw how she managed to change everything. How she realised all the months of training behind her, how she won and set the World record. I was almost in tears of happiness when she won. And I told myself: ‘Look how great she is. She fought and won. You must do the same’.”

Lebedeva did exactly the same – she fought and won the Long Jump, just two centimetres ahead of her fellow Russians, Tatyana Kotova and Irina Simagina. She made her dream come true and won the Olympic gold, although not in the event she was first planning to win.

Year 2005, Helsinki: the World Championships became, for Lebedeva, another fight – this time with her health. A leg injury did not allow her compete in the final of the Triple Jump, after she had qualified with 14.15, and she withdrew. “If it was the Olympic Games I would compete even if later they had to cut my leg off,” Lebedeva explained.  “But there will be more World Championships in my career and I had no right to risk my health. It was very hard for me to make this decision but I believe it was right.”

Later the season Lebedeva added another victory win to her collection, winning the Golden League jackpot of one million dollars. She was ignorant to fierce critics in Russia about her refusal to compete in Helsinki, allegedly wishing only to win money but not fight for her country. She returned to Volgograd and donated 10 per cent to an orphans’ home. “I believe one must share,” she said. “What you save would rot together with you. What you give would be yours forever.”

From this year, Lebedeva has been engaged in a charity helping another Olympic champion from Volgograd, the high jumper Yelena Slesarenko, take care of a house for sick kids. It is an ongoing effort as they provide what they need constantly. “The only advice I gave Yelena Isinbaeva when she won her share of the Golden League jackpot last year and asked me who to help was – never give them money,” Lebedeva said. “Unfortunately, Russia is still a country where your money would easily be stolen by governors and kids never see it. That’s why I am always eager to buy for kids a playground, music centre or a micro oven, but I never give my money directly to the house.”

Year 2007, Osaka: this World Championships seemed to Lebedeva a reversal of Athens 2004. She started with a gold medal in the Long Jump, again sharing the podium with two other Russians, and followed on with ‘only’ silver in the Triple Jump. “I understand I need to be completely healthy to win in the Triple,” Lebedeva said. “It was the injury that did not let me jump farther. And I can officially say – at the Olympics 2008 I want revenge. My main goal there is to win the Triple Jump. I have some titles in Long. Now it’s high time to win the Triple.”

In winter 2008, in Finland, Lebedeva underwent surgery on the Achilles tendon. She completely missed the indoor season and, when she came back in the outdoor season, she was not the brilliant Lebedeva we used to see. “Athletics is not Formula 1 where your starting position is crucially important,” she said. “It does not matter if now I am ranked 5th or 10th in the world. In my career, sometimes I have come to the main start with the season’s lead and lost, sometimes vice versa. I believe in Beijing I will be in my top shape.”

Probably every second interview with Lebedeva ends with a question about her hair style. Extravagant Tatyana has already competed with three-coloured-hair, red hair, and so on. “I think I would not surprise anybody in Beijing,” Lebedeva smiles. “A woman changes her looks when she needs some extra emotions, extra motivation. In Beijing I will be over motivated, so I won’t need additional factors.”

Additional factor of success for Tatyana used to be the mental support she received from her confessor Sri Chinmoi. The famous writer, musician and philosopher living in the US, Sri Chinmoi invited Lebedeva and her family to his home and shared with her the ideas he believed in.

“Before I didn’t think why I live, what I had come to this world for, what I can give to people,” she said. “But Sri Chinmoi opened my eyes and helped me to find the answers. In the past after every loss I was so upset that wanted to give up sports. But he said: ‘Look around, there are so many people who are sick and poor, but they are happy. You are young and healthy. You can see the sunrise every morning, you can do so many good things. You must be grateful for what you have’.”

Lebedeva realises that her life in sports won’t be endless. In spring 2008 she entered the Diplomatic academy in Moscow. But she is not going to get down to studies until after the Olympics. In Beijing Lebedeva again competes at two events but her main focus will be the Triple Jump.

“I have been thinking and thinking about what sports and my life in sports exist for,” Lebedeva said. “Many people don’t understand why we get big money just for jumping or running. But I remember my feelings this summer, when I saw Yelena Isinbaeva breaking the World record in Rome. I was at home watching TV late at night, and afterwards I was so happy, I so much wanted to share it. I even woke up my friend and training partner, Oxana Udmurtova, because I could not wait until the morning to tell her.

“Next day at training I was almost flying, I was jumping better than I had jumped for ages. It is what you call inspiration. If some yardman sees my jumps and cleans two streets instead of one, if a workman at the factory makes more details after my competition, I would consider my sporting career had sense. Inspiring others – that’s what it is all about.”


Personal Bests

Triple Jump: 15.34 (2004), 15.36i (2004)
Long Jump:  7.33 (2004), 6.98i (2004)


Yearly Progression

Triple/Long: 1993: 12.94(13.13i)/-;1994: 13.69/6.65; 1995: 13.88/-; 1996: 13.62/-; 1997: 13.56 (13.89i)/-; 1998: 14.45/-; 1999: 14.94/-; 2000: 15.32/-; 2001: 15.25/6.71i; 2003: 15.18/6.82; 2004: 15.34 (15.36i)/7.33; 2005: 15.11/6.70; 2006: 15.23/6.97; 2007: 15.14/7.15; 2008: 14.92/6.88.


Career Highlights

1994     3rd     (Triple)  World Junior Championships (Lisbon) 13.62
1998     2nd    (Triple)   World Cup (Johannesburg)  14.36
1999     4th     (Triple)   World Championships (Sevilla) 14.55
1999     3rd     (Triple)   Grand Prix Final (Munich)   14.66
2000     1st     (Triple)   European Indoor Championships (Gent) 14.68
2000     2nd    (Triple)   Olympic Games (Sydney)   15.00
2001     2nd    (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Lisbon) 14.85
2001     1st     (Triple)   World Championships (Edmonton) 15.25
2001     1st     (Triple)   World University Games (Beijing)  14.81
2001     2nd    (Triple)   Grand Prix Final (Melbourne)   14.61
2003     1st     (Triple)   World Championships (Paris)  15.18
2004     1st     (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Budapest)  15.36
2004     1st     (Long)    World Indoor Championships (Budapest) 6.98
2004     3rd     (Triple)  Olympic Games (Athens)  15.14
2004     1st     (Long)   Olympic Games (Athens) 7.07
2004     2nd    (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Monaco) 14.96
2004     2nd    (Long)    World Athletics Final (Monaco)   6.72
2005     2nd    (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Monaco)  14.86
2005     5th     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Monaco)  6.49 
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Moscow) 14.95
2006     1st     (Triple)   European Championships (Goteborg) 15.15
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  14.82
2006     1st     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  6.92
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Cup (Athens)  15.13
2007     2nd    (Triple)   World Championships (Osaka) 15.07
2007     1st     (Long)    World Championships (Osaka) 7.03
2007     3rd     (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 14.72
2007     1st     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  6.78 


Prepared by Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF “Focus on athletes” project. Copyright 2008 

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Long Jump 7.33 +0.4 Tula, RUS 31 JUL 2004
Triple Jump 15.34 -0.5 Iráklio 04 JUL 2004
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Long Jump 6.98 Budapest (SA) 07 MAR 2004
Triple Jump 15.36 Budapest (SA) 06 MAR 2004
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2010 6.64 0.0 Zhukovsky 26 JUN
2009 6.97 +1.0 Berlin 23 AUG
2008 7.03 +0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 22 AUG
2007 7.15 +1.0 Madrid 21 JUL
2006 6.97 +1.7 Doha 12 MAY
2005 6.70 -0.8 Doha 13 MAY
2004 7.33 +0.4 Tula, RUS 31 JUL
2003 6.82 -0.5 Moskva 20 SEP
1994 6.65 +2.0 Ekaterinburg 24 JUN
Triple Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2013 13.97 0.0 Moskva (Luzhniki) 25 JUL
2012 14.68 0.0 Cheboksary 04 JUL
2009 14.72 -0.8 Shanghai 20 SEP
2008 15.32 +0.5 Beijing (National Stadium) 17 AUG
2007 15.14 +0.9 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 02 JUL
2006 15.23 +0.6 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 03 JUL
2005 15.11 -0.2 Paris Saint-Denis 01 JUL
2004 15.34 -0.5 Iráklio 04 JUL
2003 15.18 -0.2 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 26 AUG
2001 15.25 -0.8 Edmonton 10 AUG
2000 15.32 +0.5 Yokohama 09 SEP
1999 14.89 Moskva 05 JUN
1998 14.45 +0.5 Bratislava 09 JUN
1997 13.56 0.0 Vladimir 22 JUN
1996 13.62 +0.3 Vladimir 21 JUL
1995 13.88 +0.4 Nyíregyháza 28 JUL
1994 13.69 -0.1 Voronezh 18 JUN
1993 12.94 Vladimir 04 JUL
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2012 5.96 Gent 18 FEB
2007 6.82 Moskva 28 JAN
2006 6.52 Volgograd 14 JAN
2004 6.98 Budapest (SA) 07 MAR
2003 6.39 Volgograd 18 JAN
2001 6.71 Moskva 19 JAN
Triple Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2013 13.89 Düsseldorf 08 FEB
2006 14.95 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 11 MAR
2004 15.36 Budapest (SA) 06 MAR
2003 14.60 Moskva 26 FEB
2001 15.00 Moskva 18 FEB
2000 14.78 Pireás 09 FEB
1999 14.22 Moskva 14 FEB
1998 14.08 Moskva 13 FEB
1997 13.89 Volgograd 21 FEB
1993 13.13 Volgograd 31 JAN
Honours - Long Jump
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 3 6.79 +1.4 Thessaloniki 12 SEP 2009
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2 6.97 +1.0 Berlin 23 AUG 2009
6th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 3 6.64 +0.1 Stuttgart 13 SEP 2008
The XXIX Olympic Games 2 7.03 +0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 22 AUG 2008
5th IAAF World Athletics Final 1 6.78 +0.6 Stuttgart 22 SEP 2007
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 7.03 +0.3 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 28 AUG 2007
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 1 6.92 +0.7 Stuttgart 09 SEP 2006
3rd IAAF World Athletics Final 4 6.49 +1.1 Monaco 09 SEP 2005
2nd IAAF World Athletics Final 2 6.72 +0.7 Monaco 18 SEP 2004
28th Olympic Games 1 7.07 +1.3 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 27 AUG 2004
10th IAAF World Indoor Championships 1 6.98 Budapest (SA) 07 MAR 2004
5th IAAF World Junior Championships 10 6.22 +1.9 Lisboa 23 JUL 1994
Honours - Triple Jump
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXX Olympic Games 10 14.11 -0.7 London (OP) 05 AUG 2012
IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 3 14.48 -0.5 Thessaloniki 13 SEP 2009
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 14.37 0.0 Berlin 17 AUG 2009
6th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 2 14.63 +0.6 Stuttgart 14 SEP 2008
The XXIX Olympic Games 2 15.32 +0.5 Beijing (National Stadium) 17 AUG 2008
5th IAAF World Athletics Final 3 14.72 +0.6 Stuttgart 23 SEP 2007
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 2 15.07 +0.8 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 31 AUG 2007
10th IAAF World Cup 1 15.13 +1.4 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 16 SEP 2006
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 1 14.82 -0.3 Stuttgart 10 SEP 2006
11th IAAF World Indoor Championships 1 14.95 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 11 MAR 2006
3rd IAAF World Athletics Final 2 14.86 +0.8 Monaco 10 SEP 2005
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics f DNS Helsinki 07 AUG 2005
2nd IAAF World Athletics Final 2 14.96 -0.3 Monaco 19 SEP 2004
28th Olympic Games 3 15.14 +0.7 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 23 AUG 2004
10th IAAF World Indoor Championships 1 15.36 Budapest (SA) 06 MAR 2004
1st IAAF World Athletics Final 1 15.13 +0.1 Monaco 13 SEP 2003
9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 15.18 -0.2 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 26 AUG 2003
9th IAAF World Indoor Championships 6q2 14.09 Birmingham, GBR 14 MAR 2003
17th IAAF Grand Prix Final 2 14.61 +0.9 Melbourne 09 SEP 2001
8th IAAF World Championships 1 15.25 -0.8 Edmonton 10 AUG 2001
8th IAAF World Indoor Championships 2 14.85 Lisboa 11 MAR 2001
27th Olympic Games 2 15.00 +1.3 Sydney 24 SEP 2000
IAAF Grand Prix Final 3 14.66 +0.2 München 11 SEP 1999
7th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 4 14.55 +0.7 Sevilla 24 AUG 1999
8th IAAF World Cup in Athetics 2 14.36 +1.0 Johannesburg 11 SEP 1998
5th IAAF World Junior Championships 3 13.62 +0.7 Lisboa 21 JUL 1994


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.


Updated 6 August 2008

Tatyana LEBEDEVA, Russia (Long Jump/Triple Jump)

Born: 21 July 1976, Sterlitamak, Bashkiriya
Lives: Volgograd.
1.73 / 63kg
Coach: Vyacheslav Dogonkin.

“I can’t imagine my life without athletics,” Tatyana Lebedeva says. And it’s hard to imagine modern athletics without Lebedeva. It’s not even the thing of her titles – Olympic champion and reigning World champion in the Long Jump, twice World Champion and World indoor record holder in the Triple Jump, Golden League jackpot winner 2005 etc. It is the thing of her personality. First place at the World Championships five months after childbirth, parachute jumps and crazy hair styles, Indian philosophy studies and charity actions for sick kids – this is Lebedeva, Bright and original, purposeful and thoughtful.

Year 2000, Sydney: first Olympic Games in Lebedeva’s career. She came to these Games as a favourite, with aa considerable season’s lead at 15.32m. The favourite’s status became questionable after only the first attempt, when Bulgarian Teresa Marinova jumped 15.00. Lebedeva fought until the very end. At her 5th attempt she jumped 15.00. One attempt left – and the last chance for Lebedeva to become the Olympic champion.

“Before my last attempt I so much wanted to listen to the national anthem,” Lebedeva said. “There was the victory ceremony for our high jumper, Sergey Klyugin, at the time. I wanted to wait until the end of it, but organisers called me out to jump before the start. To be honest, I just did not manage to concentrate. I did not realise my chance. But I was sure I would make my conclusions and take revenge.” The revenge took place very soon – in the 2001 at the World Championships, in Edmonton. Lebedeva was unbeaten with a 15.25 leap.

Year 2003, Birmingham: first World Indoor Championships for Lebedeva after childbirth. She gave birth to her daughter, Nastya, in September 2002, and already in March 2003 competed in the World Indoors! She was far from the medals with only a 14.09 jump, but her comeback to the international scene five months after giving birth was exceptional. “Before I was dreaming about the pregnancy like lying on the bed and doing nothing,” Lebedeva smiled. “But, when I got pregnant, I missed sports so much.  I even saw jumps in my dreams! On the tenth day after Nastya’s birth I was walking her in a carriage near the stadium. I could not stand the temptation to come to say ‘hello’ to my coach and my fellows. Athletes from my training group, half joking, called me to join them. And what do you think – on the next day I put on my sports clothes, let Nastya in the carriage stay nearby, and started training.”

Lebedeva’s wish to compete in the indoor season was considered another joke. “My coach said I was crazy”, Lebedeva said. She was not in a hurry to win but she just had so much energy that could not wait. For this energy, and huge training volumes, she was described as “a person with electronic batteries”. These batteries kept her going and facilitated plans that any other person would consider impossible.

Year 2003, Moscow: combining Triple Jump with the Long Jump is not a new idea but Lebedeva is one of the few who has done this at the highest level. She first tried the Long Jump in a major competition at the Russian Challenge in Moscow, some weeks after the victorious World Championships in Paris. The reason was simple – the Triple Jump was not on the programme but Lebedeva wanted to fight for the prize money and compete before her home public after her big international win.

The results in the Long Jump exceeded expectations – 6.82 and the first place. “I am so grateful to my manager, Aivar Karotamm, who suggested I do Long jump in Moscow,” Lebedeva said. “After Paris I was very self-confident and decided to try. Actually, after the Triple Jump, the Long Jump seems so easy! If I was rational, of course, I would have switched to Long Jump long ago. But I have my own goals and ambitions and do not want to follow the easiest way.”

Year 2004, Athens: the second chapter of Lebedeva’s Olympic story and this time it was about willpower. Lebedeva came to the Olympics as a hot favourite and reigning World champion in Triple Jump. But, as in Sydney, she did not manage her best performance at the most important moment. “I was all the way repeating to myself that I must win,” Lebedeva explained. “I could not get rid of these thoughts. That’s why I did not manage to jump far at the first attempt I panicked. I was not mentally ready that something could go wrong.”

Lebedeva’s bad luck was that her bad day coincided with the inspiration that came to the Cameroonian Francoise Mbango. Five jumps over 15m – and Lebedeva, with a 15.14 leap in the fifth round, was only third. This bronze was undoubtedly a defeat. “For me only the first place exists,” Lebedeva whispered at the victory ceremony.

In Athens, Lebedeva had one remaining chance – in the Long Jump – to prove her ambitions. And she had only one and a half days before the qualification round to recover and leave all negative emotions behind. Lebedeva found inspiration in her friend from the same town of Volgograd – Yelena Isinbaeva.

“The day after my bronze I was watching Lena’s Olympic final,” Lebedeva recalled. “She was struggling at the beginning, could not pull herself together and finally was only one attempt away from losing. And, at this particular moment, I saw how she managed to change everything. How she realised all the months of training behind her, how she won and set the World record. I was almost in tears of happiness when she won. And I told myself: ‘Look how great she is. She fought and won. You must do the same’.”

Lebedeva did exactly the same – she fought and won the Long Jump, just two centimetres ahead of her fellow Russians, Tatyana Kotova and Irina Simagina. She made her dream come true and won the Olympic gold, although not in the event she was first planning to win.

Year 2005, Helsinki: the World Championships became, for Lebedeva, another fight – this time with her health. A leg injury did not allow her compete in the final of the Triple Jump, after she had qualified with 14.15, and she withdrew. “If it was the Olympic Games I would compete even if later they had to cut my leg off,” Lebedeva explained.  “But there will be more World Championships in my career and I had no right to risk my health. It was very hard for me to make this decision but I believe it was right.”

Later the season Lebedeva added another victory win to her collection, winning the Golden League jackpot of one million dollars. She was ignorant to fierce critics in Russia about her refusal to compete in Helsinki, allegedly wishing only to win money but not fight for her country. She returned to Volgograd and donated 10 per cent to an orphans’ home. “I believe one must share,” she said. “What you save would rot together with you. What you give would be yours forever.”

From this year, Lebedeva has been engaged in a charity helping another Olympic champion from Volgograd, the high jumper Yelena Slesarenko, take care of a house for sick kids. It is an ongoing effort as they provide what they need constantly. “The only advice I gave Yelena Isinbaeva when she won her share of the Golden League jackpot last year and asked me who to help was – never give them money,” Lebedeva said. “Unfortunately, Russia is still a country where your money would easily be stolen by governors and kids never see it. That’s why I am always eager to buy for kids a playground, music centre or a micro oven, but I never give my money directly to the house.”

Year 2007, Osaka: this World Championships seemed to Lebedeva a reversal of Athens 2004. She started with a gold medal in the Long Jump, again sharing the podium with two other Russians, and followed on with ‘only’ silver in the Triple Jump. “I understand I need to be completely healthy to win in the Triple,” Lebedeva said. “It was the injury that did not let me jump farther. And I can officially say – at the Olympics 2008 I want revenge. My main goal there is to win the Triple Jump. I have some titles in Long. Now it’s high time to win the Triple.”

In winter 2008, in Finland, Lebedeva underwent surgery on the Achilles tendon. She completely missed the indoor season and, when she came back in the outdoor season, she was not the brilliant Lebedeva we used to see. “Athletics is not Formula 1 where your starting position is crucially important,” she said. “It does not matter if now I am ranked 5th or 10th in the world. In my career, sometimes I have come to the main start with the season’s lead and lost, sometimes vice versa. I believe in Beijing I will be in my top shape.”

Probably every second interview with Lebedeva ends with a question about her hair style. Extravagant Tatyana has already competed with three-coloured-hair, red hair, and so on. “I think I would not surprise anybody in Beijing,” Lebedeva smiles. “A woman changes her looks when she needs some extra emotions, extra motivation. In Beijing I will be over motivated, so I won’t need additional factors.”

Additional factor of success for Tatyana used to be the mental support she received from her confessor Sri Chinmoi. The famous writer, musician and philosopher living in the US, Sri Chinmoi invited Lebedeva and her family to his home and shared with her the ideas he believed in.

“Before I didn’t think why I live, what I had come to this world for, what I can give to people,” she said. “But Sri Chinmoi opened my eyes and helped me to find the answers. In the past after every loss I was so upset that wanted to give up sports. But he said: ‘Look around, there are so many people who are sick and poor, but they are happy. You are young and healthy. You can see the sunrise every morning, you can do so many good things. You must be grateful for what you have’.”

Lebedeva realises that her life in sports won’t be endless. In spring 2008 she entered the Diplomatic academy in Moscow. But she is not going to get down to studies until after the Olympics. In Beijing Lebedeva again competes at two events but her main focus will be the Triple Jump.

“I have been thinking and thinking about what sports and my life in sports exist for,” Lebedeva said. “Many people don’t understand why we get big money just for jumping or running. But I remember my feelings this summer, when I saw Yelena Isinbaeva breaking the World record in Rome. I was at home watching TV late at night, and afterwards I was so happy, I so much wanted to share it. I even woke up my friend and training partner, Oxana Udmurtova, because I could not wait until the morning to tell her.

“Next day at training I was almost flying, I was jumping better than I had jumped for ages. It is what you call inspiration. If some yardman sees my jumps and cleans two streets instead of one, if a workman at the factory makes more details after my competition, I would consider my sporting career had sense. Inspiring others – that’s what it is all about.”


Personal Bests

Triple Jump: 15.34 (2004), 15.36i (2004)
Long Jump:  7.33 (2004), 6.98i (2004)


Yearly Progression

Triple/Long: 1993: 12.94(13.13i)/-;1994: 13.69/6.65; 1995: 13.88/-; 1996: 13.62/-; 1997: 13.56 (13.89i)/-; 1998: 14.45/-; 1999: 14.94/-; 2000: 15.32/-; 2001: 15.25/6.71i; 2003: 15.18/6.82; 2004: 15.34 (15.36i)/7.33; 2005: 15.11/6.70; 2006: 15.23/6.97; 2007: 15.14/7.15; 2008: 14.92/6.88.


Career Highlights

1994     3rd     (Triple)  World Junior Championships (Lisbon) 13.62
1998     2nd    (Triple)   World Cup (Johannesburg)  14.36
1999     4th     (Triple)   World Championships (Sevilla) 14.55
1999     3rd     (Triple)   Grand Prix Final (Munich)   14.66
2000     1st     (Triple)   European Indoor Championships (Gent) 14.68
2000     2nd    (Triple)   Olympic Games (Sydney)   15.00
2001     2nd    (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Lisbon) 14.85
2001     1st     (Triple)   World Championships (Edmonton) 15.25
2001     1st     (Triple)   World University Games (Beijing)  14.81
2001     2nd    (Triple)   Grand Prix Final (Melbourne)   14.61
2003     1st     (Triple)   World Championships (Paris)  15.18
2004     1st     (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Budapest)  15.36
2004     1st     (Long)    World Indoor Championships (Budapest) 6.98
2004     3rd     (Triple)  Olympic Games (Athens)  15.14
2004     1st     (Long)   Olympic Games (Athens) 7.07
2004     2nd    (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Monaco) 14.96
2004     2nd    (Long)    World Athletics Final (Monaco)   6.72
2005     2nd    (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Monaco)  14.86
2005     5th     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Monaco)  6.49 
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Indoor Championships (Moscow) 14.95
2006     1st     (Triple)   European Championships (Goteborg) 15.15
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  14.82
2006     1st     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  6.92
2006     1st     (Triple)   World Cup (Athens)  15.13
2007     2nd    (Triple)   World Championships (Osaka) 15.07
2007     1st     (Long)    World Championships (Osaka) 7.03
2007     3rd     (Triple)   World Athletics Final (Stuttgart) 14.72
2007     1st     (Long)    World Athletics Final (Stuttgart)  6.78 


Prepared by Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF “Focus on athletes” project. Copyright 2008