Olha Saladuha leaps to a world-leading 14.88m to win the European indoor Triple Jump title (Getty Images)
Olha Saladuha leaps to a world-leading 14.88m to win the European indoor Triple Jump title (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Ukraine Ukraine
  • DATE OF BIRTH 4 JUN 1983

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Updated 21 August 2015

Olha SALADUKHA, Ukraine (Triple Jump) 

Born: 4 June 1983, Donetsk

Living in Kyiv 

1.75cm / 56kg

 

Coach Anatoliy Boyko

 

In December 2006, Olha Saladukha was named the ‘Charm and Beauty’ of Ukrainian athletics at the National Athletics Awards, “Athena 2006.” She was happy and promised to become “The Ukrainian Athlete of the Year” in future. What nobody knew, except those people close to her at the time, was that she had almost quit athletics two years earlier. Her happiness now was a transformation.

 

At the age of 9 Saladukha went to the athletics group coached by Zoya Boyko in Donetsk’s Sergey Bubka Club. Her parents, especially mother Liudmyla, who was a swimmer at a young age, supported their daughter’s decision completely. Saladukha began her training as hurdler because she liked the event best of all.

 

Three years later Saladukha moved to more professional group coaching by the husband of her first trainer, Anatoliy Boyko. The daughter of her coaches, Olha Boyko, was a Master class triple jumper (13.97) and they trained together. Within half a year Saladukha had changed her priority in athletics to Triple Jump. In May 1998, at the age of 14, she achieved third place at U23 Ukrainian Championships with a PB 13.32.

 

In 1999 Saladukha reached the Final at the 1st World Youth Championships, in Bydgoszcz, Poland (12.36 in qualifying rounds) but managed only 9th place (12.76). For a while, she was unable to improve her results but on 19 May 2001 she set a PB 13.48 to finish 3rd at the Ukrainian University Games in Kiev. Two months later, in Grosseto, Italy, she finished 9th at the European Junior Championships. The following year she improved to 5th (13.17) in the World Junior Championships, in Kingston, and was the leading European.

 

“My results grew too slowly and I decided to change something in my life,” Saladukha recalled. “First of all, I moved to another group, coached by Anatoliy Holubtsov (former trainer of World record holder and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Champion Inessa Kravets). I trained in his group for two years (2003-2004). Holubtsov provides a very interesting training system but the strangest I have seen. I could not understand and I did not want to understand.”

 

For two years running, Saladukha had one injury after another. By the end of 2004 she had jumped only 13.53 and was so disillusioned that she decided to leave athletics, she revealed recently. “It was a quick and steady decision,” she said. “I came back home but my first coaches asked me to try once more.  I did not want to do this but agreed with them because of big respect,” she said.

 

Saladukha returned to Anatoliy Boyko in November 2004 but made up her mind to stay in athletics only after the 2005 summer season. It was a year of hesitation and fighting previous injuries. Finally, after the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey, in which she finished 2nd (13.86), she decided to stay in the sport.

 

In the winter of 2006, coached by Boyko, Saladukha jumped over the 14m mark for the first time at the EAA Permit event in Piraeus. In June 2006, she won the European Cup, in Malaga, with 14.10 and then improved her PB to 14.28 for 5th at the Golden League meeting in Rome.

 

“On 9 August, at the European Championships in Göteborg, I finished 4th with a PB 14.38 and, at the end of August, in Rieti, I added 3cm more,” Saladukha said. “I was surprised by my 2006 season and self-satisfied. But, when I came back to Ukraine, I read a lot of criticism about myself. I was driven to despair but I soon understood that Ukrainians keep up with my sport career and want to see a successor to World record holder Inessa Kravets and Sydney Olympic bronze medallist, Yelena Govorova. And they are right.”

 

It was a big stimulus for Saladukha to improve her PB in 2007 to 14.79 and win gold at the World University Games in Bangkok. She then returned to Ukraine and, one week later, had to go to the Osaka World Championships. She was in great shape but didn’t cope with re-acclimatisation. In Osaka, she had to settle for 7th place (14.60)

 

Saladukha was ready to fight for a medal at the World indoor Championships, in Valencia, in March 2008 but, in the qualification round, she damaged her take-off foot. In tears in warm-up for the Final, because of the pain, she achieved 14.32 and finished 6th.

 

However, the 2008 summer season began well for Saladukha. In nine competitions, she had a worst result of 14.52 in Lille and personal best at the National Championships with 14.84 in Kiev. “I have not unfounded hopes to improve my results even more this summer,” she said. “We have added two steps to my running start and worked hard on my third phase. I have become more strong, powerful and quick. All of this gives me hope of a mark of about 15m.”

 

But at the Beijing Olympics Saladukha couldn’t fulfil herself. She leaped 14.46 in the qualification round and went out to the final with 7th result. “I was sure I’ll achieve 15m mark in Olympics final,” Olga remembers. “But my great feelings and big wishes played a nasty trick on me. I leaped 14.70 and missed just 3 centimetres from 8th place. I was really confused and went back to athlete’s village in tears. My husband was understanding and just told me: “Don’t worry. You just need a rest and I think it must be maternity leave. Then you will get your Olympic medal in London…”  To be honest I didn’t want to continue this season but I had to perform my functions.”

 

Saladukha finished the Olympic season at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart achieving 6th place with 14.40. In October 2008 she stopped her training because of pregnancy. On 1 June 2009 Olha gave a birth to daughter Diana and one month later she appeared on the Donetsk training stadium.

 

“My first practices were terrible,” Olha said. “After delivery I was very weak and emaciated. I was able to walk and do some exercises for flexibility only. Then I had a long period of jogging and different trainings for body’s strengthening. In November I began a little work with weights but it was just 20-30kg.”

 

Olha returned for her usual practices only in March 2010, with the phantasmal dream to achieve the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Barcelona. But she began the 2010 summer season with an impressive jump of 14.76 at the Donetsk Region Cup. “I could not believe my eyes,” Saladukha recalls. “My coach told me before these competitions that I can jump over 14m, maybe14.10-14.20. But nobody expected so high a result at the beginning of the season.”

 

At the end of May, Saladukha won the National Cup in Yalta with 14.78 and booked her ticket to the European Team Championships. In Bergen she won with 14.39 only, but because of the loss of her luggage she had to jump in new spikes which made bleeding blisters on her feet. But after this victory Olha understood that she could fight for the highest places at the European Championships.

 

In Barcelona, Saladukha went through qualification easily, leaping 14.49 at her first attempt. In the final she set her SB and won with 14.81.

 

“There is a very fast track in the Barcelona Stadium,” Olha says. “After giving the birth to my daughter, I became light and uninhibited and I just used these qualities on the modern track. Certainly I was happy because, at the beginning of the season, I just dreamed to go to the European Championships. But during the final I have understood that I could jump over 15m there. The second chance to do it I had at the Continental Cup in Split but it wasn’t easy because of the long season. Moreover, after the victory at the European Championships, I felt a bit tired and relaxed. Now I understand that my silver medal from Split with 14.70 is a very good achievement. I could finished ahead World champion   Yargelis Savigne, but lost to Olga Rypakova, who jumped a PB and new Asian Record with 15.25. Certainly, physically I was not ready to jump so far that time.”

 

During winter 2010-2011, Saladukha worked a lot on the technical details of her jump and on improving her force. She didn’t have the aim to participate at European Indoor Championships in Paris and competed in three indoor competitions, achieving only an SB of 14.45m in Düsseldorf.

 

“All the year, we look to the World Championships in Daegu,” Saladukha says. “All my high results at Diamond League events are only definition phases of my main goal of the season 2011. I was not surprised when I set my PB at the first summer competition, in Eugene, on 4 June with 14.98. Thanks to Nike, I had a business class flight and came to the USA very fresh and not tired. At the European Team Championships in Stockholm I had the task to win and nothing more. I did it and jumped 14.85, setting a new Stadium Record.”

 

One month later, Olha came back to Stockholm for the Diamond League event on 29 July, where she jumped over the 15m mark the first time in her career and won the competition with amazing 15.06. But Saladukha achieved that attempt with wind assistance, +2.3m/s.

 

“It looks bit strange but I had no emotions and great happiness, maybe because mentally I was ready for this result more than one year, - Olha says. – Moreover, my jump over 15 meters was far from high standards technically. I know all my mistakes and work a lot to make my jump more perfect. My technique became much better than last year, but not enough to be ideal. We tried to refine many parts of my jump till the World Championships in Daegu and hoped to improve my PB at the main competition of the year.” 

 

In the South Korea final, Saladukha made her first attempt as a test one, landed at the 14.94m mark and was sure that it would be the day to jump over 15m.  “But the more I tried to do my best, the more my jumps looked squeezed and constrained. I had very many ways to improve my result much more, but I couldn’t realise my shape. Thank God it was enough to become a winner. Could I say that I have got absolutely new emotion? Certainly, feelings from victories at European and World Championships are very different. In Daegu I was happy to win but anxious about realisations of my technical skills. I work a lot on my mentality because I’m sure that all limits we have are in our thoughts only. For example, I didn’t go with my team to training camp in South Korea before Daegu because we made detailed analyses of my sport diaries and saw that if I go to compete to another climatic and time zone I don’t need special time for acclimatisation. Why? Because everything is in our brains. I want to be free from any prejudices. I must listen to myself much more than any scientific researches.”

 

 

Saladukha finished the summer season 2011 confidently. She won the Diamond League final, in Brussels, with 14.67 and dominated the Diamond League Race in women’s Triple Jump. On September 18, in Milano, Olha repeated her Daegu result, 14.94 (wind assisted +2.4) and finished the season on a high.

 

She decided to miss the winter season, but participated in several indoor events only to keep up her competition skills. She didn’t make any special jumping and sprint training to show high result but she won the Stockholm event with a new National Indoor record, 14.79.

 

“I cannot believe that it was possible,” her coach Anatoliy Boyko said after Saladukha’s performance in Stockholm. “That result is the significant confirmation of the fact that Olha became stronger mentally and physically. She is an extraordinary person and she can to jump much further than just 15m.”

 

Saladukha dedicated all preparation for London Olympics to improving her speed and technical skills. “We paid a lot of attention to jumping technique,” Olha says. “We watched many jumps of Triple Jump Legends like Inessa Kravets and Jonathan Edwards. I think Edwards’ technique is unique. This is a peak of perfection. I would be happy to put into the action even a couple of his technical elements. Certainly, women’s and men’s Triple Jumps are very different but I don’t try to follow him blindfold. We are creating my own way to high results.”

 

At the end of May, Saladukha made the first steps to Olympic summer 2012 high performances, winning competitions in Rabat and the Diamond League stage in Rome with equal results, 14.75m. One month later she defended her European Champion’s title, achieving a PB 14.99m in the first attempt in the Helsinki final.

 

“It was question of principle to defend my European title,” Saladukha says. “Especially as we didn’t focus on preparation for Helsinki. For me it was just a very nice opportunity to go through Olympic competition model (today is qualification and final is after tomorrow). I don’t obsess with the fact that I again showed my best result in the first attempt. The most important thing is that I felt at ease and improved my PB, even if it was only a 1cm enhancement.”

 

Then Olha was fully focused on London preparation, but one week before her flight to the British capital she slightly injured her take-off knee during a technical practice. From day to day, pain was getting stronger. The situation was terrible as all team doctors were already in London at that time. Olha stopped her training immediately and only a few days later joined the national team in the Olympic Village. After medical examinations, doctors put her performance at the Games under the big question mark. Saladukha had been doing different treatments but nothing helped. She even wasn’t able to jump over the automatic qualification standard of 14.40m, achieved only by four athletes, but made the Olympic final with fifth result, 14.35m.

 

“It was the most difficult and terrible final in my life” Saladukha recalls. “Being a favourite I was only in fourth place till the last round and so decided to stake everything. I took off all my bandages and plasters to feel freer and pushed myself to the limit. I was unable to believe my own eyes when saw 14.79m on the scoreboard. I had risen to third place and it looked like a miracle. That London bronze was much more valuable for me than any previous gold medals from major events.” 

 

In spite of injury, Olha continued her season at Diamond League events in Lausanne (14.42m for 2nd), Birmingham (14.40m for 1st) and Brussels (14.40m for 2nd). She started her preparation for 2013 year only after 2 months rest combined with treatment.

 

Saladukha confirmed her participation in the 2013 European Indoors only 10 days before the competition, making her final decision after her performance at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham, where the 29-year-old Ukrainian won with a world-leading 14.61m.

 

 “Initially I didn’t have Göteborg in my season schedule, but I felt a bit dissatisfied and unfulfilled leaving the field in Birmingham. I have ‘caught’ the physical sensation of my usual jump only once this winter. I want to fix it more deeply as I finished last summer season injured and couldn’t show my model technique after London Olympics. I need to renew feelings of correct jumps to begin preparation for next summer at ease. That is why I decided to continue my indoor performances to Göteborg. I hadn’t had enough special technical work to produce outstanding results at the European indoors. Two weeks before the champs I paid maximum attention to my run-up to make it more accurate. Sweden is my lucky country and if I decided to go to Göteborg I was aiming not only to win, but also set a new National Indoor record.” Saladukha explained then.

 

And she did it successfully in the first attempt in the final, landing at 14.88m.

 

Preparing for the summer season, Olha had all her training camps in the Ukraine. From the beginning of May she was ready to show strong results and confirmed her great shape at the Diamond League event in Eugene on 1 June when she finished second with an 14.85m season best. Though Olha then won the European Team Championships in Gateshead (22 June) she was disappointed with her result of 14.49m and some technical details. After another unsuccessful attempt to improve her SB at the Paris/Saint-Denis Diamond League meeting on 6 June (14.55m), Saladukha took a competitions break till the major championship in Moscow to have time to get rid of technical mistakes and make her jumps more stable.

 

“We did a great job at the training camp in Vinnytsya (Ukraine) before Moscow Worlds. There was calm and amazing atmosphere for deep preparation but didn’t take in account only one thing – the big difference between the surfaces on the runways in Vinnytsya and Luzhniki stadiums. Coming to Moscow I understood that from my first warm-up. My approach was changed because of the fast track and I couldn’t show my usual technique. During the Moscow Final it looked like I was in a hurry to make my attempts and interrupted all three phases: hop, step and jump.”

 

In her best attempt in the Moscow Final, Saladukha landed at 14.65m only (14.69 in qualification) and took the bronze medal. “I was absolutely disappointed” Olha summed up after the competition. “I had no problems, I wasn’t injured, I was absolutely healthy and was in great shape. I was ready to defend my World title from Daegu but it wasn’t my day. One year ago I took my Olympic bronze like my greatest achievement and biggest victory, as I had performed injured there. On the contrary the Moscow bronze medal was something like utter defeat for me.”

 

Already after Saladukha left the Moscow field she decided to prepare for the next World Indoor Championships in Sopot. “I haven’t any medals from World Indoors in my collection, so I have a good chance to try as I didn’t feel fulfilled in Moscow and now I feel sport anger,” Saladukha said while in the Moscow mixed zone.

 

She started her preparation for the 2014 indoor season in October. In November-December Olha made great fundamental and technical work in her Portugal training camp and continued practices in her native Donetsk after the New Year holidays.

 

“I would have liked to perform a bit more before starting in Sopot, but there were no women triple jump events at different one-day meetings in Europe. I was able to compete only twice during the winter in Eaubonne (14.60) and at the national indoors in Sumy, where I showed 14.65 to equal the world-leading result of Russian Yekaterina Koneva. Before the World Indoors we had time to make some technical corrections and despite the terrible and very difficult political situation in the Ukraine, I go to Sopot with good mood and fighting spirit,” Saladukha said before heading to Poland.

 

But she wasn’t able to gain revenge on Yekaterina Koneva at the World Indoor Championships, landing at 14.45m in the Sopot final, and losing by only 1cm to the Russian jumper. “I don’t want to be cunning. I came to Sopot to win the gold medal and to set new national indoor record. Unfortunately, I was too far from my dream that day and felt hurt losing by only one centimetre, but I already was in such situation at London Olympics, where I finished third. None of the women’s triple jump finalists coped to with such kind of track, which was very fickle and difficult for adapting. If I had a couple more competitions during this season, I definitely could show much stronger result. My shape was really great, but mistakes were terrible!” Saladukha confessed.

 

In spite of Olha’s defeat at the WIC, in April Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko awarded Saladukha the Donetsk City Honour Sign for her Sopot achievement and valuable contribution to sport development in the region.

 

Saladukha started to prepare for the 2014 summer season in her native Donetsk, but the political situation there changed for the worse from one day to another. Separatists and terrorists ventured to begin the real war, requiring independent status for the eastern region of Ukraine.

 

“It was impossible to train there from the middle of the May. It was terrible to see armed gunmen, tanks and military hardware on the streets. I took out all my family from Donetsk, decided to prepare for Zürich in Kiev,” Saladukha said. She wandered about different hotels and trainings camps, but at least kept her family far from the combat zone. Preparing for the major event of the season in quiet conditions of the Ukrainian capital, she always turned her thoughts to her native home and couldn’t be focused on training and competitions only. As a result, Saladukha even wasn’t able to achieve 14.40m mark during the season. After a modest 14.33 and 2nd places at both the European Team championships in Braunschweig (21 June and Lausanne Diamond League meeting (3 July), Olha made compulsory decision to stop her performances at different competitions and settled at the Olympic preparation camp nearest Kiev, trying to guard herself from negative and painful information. Just saying that it was not easy is to say nothing, but going to the European Championships in Zürich, Saladukha was extremely concentrated, but pressured to the limit at the same time. Fortunately, one and a half months of ‘hermit's life’ finally led her to her desired result.

 

“I came back! This gold medal was important not only for me, but also for my family, my coach and all my country,” Saladukha wrote on her Facebook page after she defended her European champion title in great style, leaping a season best 14.73 in the Zürich final. But the joy of victory was clouded by continuation of hostilities in Donetsk. Olha wasn’t at home for more than three months and even didn’t know whether she will have ability to come back at all. “My home is in hot spot of Ukraine. I cannot come back there even to take necessary things. I’m just homeless person for now. Where I must get my motivation from? How I can prepare for future competitions and next season?” Saladukha asked.

 

Although state financing was stopped after the end of the official season for the national team, Saladukha rented the flat in Kiev, continuing her preparation for the Continental Cup as member of the European squad. She took 2nd place at Diamond League final in Brussels on 5 September with 14.53 and finished third in overall DL race.

 

“That was the most difficult year in my career, first of all mentally,” Olha confessed “But I was very proud to represent Europe at the Continental Cup and tried to do my best in Marrakech. Certainly, nervousness about situation in Ukraine had a strong influence on my performance. I felt like I had no power, both mental and physical, to compete. As a result, I missed the Continental Cup silver by only one centimetre, leaped to 14.26m and I was really happy that I finished that season with one major medal more,” Saladukha said.

 

Preparing for summer 2015, Olha decided to repeat the strategic scenario from the previous year, but she decided to withdraw from competing at the European Indoors to have much more time for basic work. “I have been in athletics more than 20 years and I feel I need to strengthen my body during the preparation season more deeply and carefully,” Saladukha explains. But in any case years of hard work influenced her health.

 

After she started the outdoor season with great 14.62m at the Shanghai Diamond League on 17 May, Olha got a painful feeling in her back and competed in Eugene where she was third with 14.48m.

 

“I hoped it happened just because of the long flight and little tiredness, but I was wrong. Two weeks later, in Oslo, the pain became much stronger. I continued to train and tried to make some treatment at the same time, but things got worse. I even wasn’t able to pass the 14m mark at the Paris Diamond League, competing with strong acute pain. After coming back home I stopped all training and took the cure, but all ways and methods we use were unsuccessful. I even wanted to cancel my flight to Beijing, but the team coaches asked me not to rush things. Finally, just one week before the World Championships, I breathed with relief as my pain started to go away. Certainly, I will try to do my best in Beijing, but I can predict nothing. Let’s see and fingers crossed,” Saladukha smiles.

 

In 2004 Saladukha graduated from the Institute of sports in Donetsk as a coach in athletics and physical culture teacher. In 2012 she graduated from the jurisprudence faculty of Kiev’s “Ukraine” University as a lawyer specialised in foreign affairs.

 

On 9 November 2007 Saladukha married Denys Kostyuk, an international class cyclist, member of the Ukrainian Olympic team for Beijing, former member of pro continental cyclist team “Lampre ISD” and current member of Kiev’s KOLS Club. They have a mini-museum of their sport achievements and both like bowling.

 

Personal Best

Triple Jump (out/in) 14.99 (2012) – 15.06w (2011) / 14.88 (2013)

 

Yearly Progression

Triple Jump (out/in): 1998: 13.32; 1999: 12.86; 2000: 13.26; 2001: 13.48/13.38; 2002: 13.63/13.66; 2003: 13.03/13.26; 2004: 13.53/13.22; 2005: 14.04/13.42; 2006: 14.41/14.08; 2007: 14.79/14.04; 2008: 14.84/14.52; 2009: -/-; 2010: 14.81/-; 2011: 14.98/14.45; 2012: 14.99/14.79 NR; 2013: 14.85/14.88 NR; 2014: 14.73/14.65; 2015: 14.62/14.14

 

Career Highlights 

1999 9th World Youth Championships
2001 9th European Junior Championships
2002 5th World Junior Championships
2005 4th European U23 Championships
2005 2nd  World University Games
2006 1st European Cup
2006 4th European Championships
2006 6th World Cup
2007 4th European Cup
2007 1st World University Games
2007 7th World Championships
2008 6th World Indoor Championships
2008 1st European Cup
2008 9th Olympic Games
2008 6th World Athletics Final
2010 1st European Team Championships
2010 1st European Championships
2010 2nd Continental Cup
2011 1st European Team Championships
2011 1st World Championships
2012 1st European Championships
2012 3rd Olympic Games
2013 1st European Indoor Championships
2013 1st European Team Championships 
2013 3rd World Championships
2014 2nd World Indoor Championships
2014 2nd European Team Championships
2014 1st European Championships
2014 3rd Continental Cup

 

Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2015.

 

 

 

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Long Jump 6.37 -0.7 Rio de Janeiro 14 MAY 2006
Triple Jump 14.99 +0.2 Helsinki 29 JUN 2012
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Long Jump 6.31 Sumy 22 FEB 2006
Triple Jump 14.88 Göteborg (Scandinavium) 03 MAR 2013
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2006 6.37 -0.7 Rio de Janeiro 14 MAY
2005 6.31 -0.8 Donetsk 07 MAY
Triple Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2015 14.62 +0.5 Shanghai (SS) 17 MAY
2014 14.73 -0.4 Zürich (Letzigrund) 16 AUG
2013 14.85 +1.7 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 01 JUN
2012 14.99 +0.2 Helsinki 29 JUN
2011 14.98 +0.6 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 04 JUN
2010 14.81 +1.1 Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 31 JUL
2008 14.84 0.0 Kyiv 03 JUL
2007 14.79 +0.4 Bangkok 13 AUG
2006 14.41 +0.4 Rieti 27 AUG
2005 14.04 +0.6 Kyiv 21 JUN
2004 13.53 +0.4 Kyiv 25 JUN
2003 13.38 +0.4 Kharkov 17 MAY
2002 13.63 -0.3 Kyiv 25 MAY
2001 13.48 +1.5 Kyiv 19 MAY
1999 12.76 -0.3 Bydgoszcz 18 JUL
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2006 6.31 Sumy 22 FEB
Triple Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2015 14.14 Düsseldorf 29 JAN
2014 14.65 Sumy 21 FEB
2013 14.88 Göteborg (Scandinavium) 03 MAR
2012 14.79 Stockholm 23 FEB
2011 14.45 Düsseldorf 11 FEB
2008 14.52 Sumy 24 FEB
2007 14.04 Sumy 14 FEB
2006 14.08 Pireás 25 FEB
2005 13.42 Sumy 13 FEB
2003 13.26 Sumy 22 FEB
2002 13.66 Kyiv 20 FEB
2001 13.38 Kyiv 22 FEB
Honours - Triple Jump
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 6 14.41 +0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 24 AUG 2015
2nd IAAF Continental Cup 2014 3 14.26 +0.3 Marrakech (Le Grande Stade) 13 SEP 2014
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 2 14.45 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 08 MAR 2014
14th IAAF World Championships 3 14.65 +0.9 Moskva (Luzhniki) 15 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 3 14.79 +0.5 London (Olympic Stadium) 05 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 14.94 +0.2 Daegu (DS) 01 SEP 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 2 14.70 +1.5 Split (Poljud Stadion) 04 SEP 2010
6th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final 6 14.40 +0.8 Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion) 14 SEP 2008
The XXIX Olympic Games 9 14.70 +1.2 Beijing (National Stadium) 17 AUG 2008
12th IAAF World Indoor Championships 6 14.32 Valencia (Velódromo Luis Puig), ESP 08 MAR 2008
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7 14.60 +0.7 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 31 AUG 2007
10th IAAF World Cup in Athletics 6 14.16 +1.8 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 16 SEP 2006
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 6 14.04 -0.8 Stuttgart (Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion) 10 SEP 2006
IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships 5 13.17 +0.4 Kingston, JAM 17 JUL 2002
1st IAAF World Youth Championships 9 12.76 -0.3 Bydgoszcz 18 JUL 1999

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 21 August 2015

Olha SALADUKHA, Ukraine (Triple Jump) 

Born: 4 June 1983, Donetsk

Living in Kyiv 

1.75cm / 56kg

 

Coach Anatoliy Boyko

 

In December 2006, Olha Saladukha was named the ‘Charm and Beauty’ of Ukrainian athletics at the National Athletics Awards, “Athena 2006.” She was happy and promised to become “The Ukrainian Athlete of the Year” in future. What nobody knew, except those people close to her at the time, was that she had almost quit athletics two years earlier. Her happiness now was a transformation.

 

At the age of 9 Saladukha went to the athletics group coached by Zoya Boyko in Donetsk’s Sergey Bubka Club. Her parents, especially mother Liudmyla, who was a swimmer at a young age, supported their daughter’s decision completely. Saladukha began her training as hurdler because she liked the event best of all.

 

Three years later Saladukha moved to more professional group coaching by the husband of her first trainer, Anatoliy Boyko. The daughter of her coaches, Olha Boyko, was a Master class triple jumper (13.97) and they trained together. Within half a year Saladukha had changed her priority in athletics to Triple Jump. In May 1998, at the age of 14, she achieved third place at U23 Ukrainian Championships with a PB 13.32.

 

In 1999 Saladukha reached the Final at the 1st World Youth Championships, in Bydgoszcz, Poland (12.36 in qualifying rounds) but managed only 9th place (12.76). For a while, she was unable to improve her results but on 19 May 2001 she set a PB 13.48 to finish 3rd at the Ukrainian University Games in Kiev. Two months later, in Grosseto, Italy, she finished 9th at the European Junior Championships. The following year she improved to 5th (13.17) in the World Junior Championships, in Kingston, and was the leading European.

 

“My results grew too slowly and I decided to change something in my life,” Saladukha recalled. “First of all, I moved to another group, coached by Anatoliy Holubtsov (former trainer of World record holder and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Champion Inessa Kravets). I trained in his group for two years (2003-2004). Holubtsov provides a very interesting training system but the strangest I have seen. I could not understand and I did not want to understand.”

 

For two years running, Saladukha had one injury after another. By the end of 2004 she had jumped only 13.53 and was so disillusioned that she decided to leave athletics, she revealed recently. “It was a quick and steady decision,” she said. “I came back home but my first coaches asked me to try once more.  I did not want to do this but agreed with them because of big respect,” she said.

 

Saladukha returned to Anatoliy Boyko in November 2004 but made up her mind to stay in athletics only after the 2005 summer season. It was a year of hesitation and fighting previous injuries. Finally, after the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey, in which she finished 2nd (13.86), she decided to stay in the sport.

 

In the winter of 2006, coached by Boyko, Saladukha jumped over the 14m mark for the first time at the EAA Permit event in Piraeus. In June 2006, she won the European Cup, in Malaga, with 14.10 and then improved her PB to 14.28 for 5th at the Golden League meeting in Rome.

 

“On 9 August, at the European Championships in Göteborg, I finished 4th with a PB 14.38 and, at the end of August, in Rieti, I added 3cm more,” Saladukha said. “I was surprised by my 2006 season and self-satisfied. But, when I came back to Ukraine, I read a lot of criticism about myself. I was driven to despair but I soon understood that Ukrainians keep up with my sport career and want to see a successor to World record holder Inessa Kravets and Sydney Olympic bronze medallist, Yelena Govorova. And they are right.”

 

It was a big stimulus for Saladukha to improve her PB in 2007 to 14.79 and win gold at the World University Games in Bangkok. She then returned to Ukraine and, one week later, had to go to the Osaka World Championships. She was in great shape but didn’t cope with re-acclimatisation. In Osaka, she had to settle for 7th place (14.60)

 

Saladukha was ready to fight for a medal at the World indoor Championships, in Valencia, in March 2008 but, in the qualification round, she damaged her take-off foot. In tears in warm-up for the Final, because of the pain, she achieved 14.32 and finished 6th.

 

However, the 2008 summer season began well for Saladukha. In nine competitions, she had a worst result of 14.52 in Lille and personal best at the National Championships with 14.84 in Kiev. “I have not unfounded hopes to improve my results even more this summer,” she said. “We have added two steps to my running start and worked hard on my third phase. I have become more strong, powerful and quick. All of this gives me hope of a mark of about 15m.”

 

But at the Beijing Olympics Saladukha couldn’t fulfil herself. She leaped 14.46 in the qualification round and went out to the final with 7th result. “I was sure I’ll achieve 15m mark in Olympics final,” Olga remembers. “But my great feelings and big wishes played a nasty trick on me. I leaped 14.70 and missed just 3 centimetres from 8th place. I was really confused and went back to athlete’s village in tears. My husband was understanding and just told me: “Don’t worry. You just need a rest and I think it must be maternity leave. Then you will get your Olympic medal in London…”  To be honest I didn’t want to continue this season but I had to perform my functions.”

 

Saladukha finished the Olympic season at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart achieving 6th place with 14.40. In October 2008 she stopped her training because of pregnancy. On 1 June 2009 Olha gave a birth to daughter Diana and one month later she appeared on the Donetsk training stadium.

 

“My first practices were terrible,” Olha said. “After delivery I was very weak and emaciated. I was able to walk and do some exercises for flexibility only. Then I had a long period of jogging and different trainings for body’s strengthening. In November I began a little work with weights but it was just 20-30kg.”

 

Olha returned for her usual practices only in March 2010, with the phantasmal dream to achieve the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Barcelona. But she began the 2010 summer season with an impressive jump of 14.76 at the Donetsk Region Cup. “I could not believe my eyes,” Saladukha recalls. “My coach told me before these competitions that I can jump over 14m, maybe14.10-14.20. But nobody expected so high a result at the beginning of the season.”

 

At the end of May, Saladukha won the National Cup in Yalta with 14.78 and booked her ticket to the European Team Championships. In Bergen she won with 14.39 only, but because of the loss of her luggage she had to jump in new spikes which made bleeding blisters on her feet. But after this victory Olha understood that she could fight for the highest places at the European Championships.

 

In Barcelona, Saladukha went through qualification easily, leaping 14.49 at her first attempt. In the final she set her SB and won with 14.81.

 

“There is a very fast track in the Barcelona Stadium,” Olha says. “After giving the birth to my daughter, I became light and uninhibited and I just used these qualities on the modern track. Certainly I was happy because, at the beginning of the season, I just dreamed to go to the European Championships. But during the final I have understood that I could jump over 15m there. The second chance to do it I had at the Continental Cup in Split but it wasn’t easy because of the long season. Moreover, after the victory at the European Championships, I felt a bit tired and relaxed. Now I understand that my silver medal from Split with 14.70 is a very good achievement. I could finished ahead World champion   Yargelis Savigne, but lost to Olga Rypakova, who jumped a PB and new Asian Record with 15.25. Certainly, physically I was not ready to jump so far that time.”

 

During winter 2010-2011, Saladukha worked a lot on the technical details of her jump and on improving her force. She didn’t have the aim to participate at European Indoor Championships in Paris and competed in three indoor competitions, achieving only an SB of 14.45m in Düsseldorf.

 

“All the year, we look to the World Championships in Daegu,” Saladukha says. “All my high results at Diamond League events are only definition phases of my main goal of the season 2011. I was not surprised when I set my PB at the first summer competition, in Eugene, on 4 June with 14.98. Thanks to Nike, I had a business class flight and came to the USA very fresh and not tired. At the European Team Championships in Stockholm I had the task to win and nothing more. I did it and jumped 14.85, setting a new Stadium Record.”

 

One month later, Olha came back to Stockholm for the Diamond League event on 29 July, where she jumped over the 15m mark the first time in her career and won the competition with amazing 15.06. But Saladukha achieved that attempt with wind assistance, +2.3m/s.

 

“It looks bit strange but I had no emotions and great happiness, maybe because mentally I was ready for this result more than one year, - Olha says. – Moreover, my jump over 15 meters was far from high standards technically. I know all my mistakes and work a lot to make my jump more perfect. My technique became much better than last year, but not enough to be ideal. We tried to refine many parts of my jump till the World Championships in Daegu and hoped to improve my PB at the main competition of the year.” 

 

In the South Korea final, Saladukha made her first attempt as a test one, landed at the 14.94m mark and was sure that it would be the day to jump over 15m.  “But the more I tried to do my best, the more my jumps looked squeezed and constrained. I had very many ways to improve my result much more, but I couldn’t realise my shape. Thank God it was enough to become a winner. Could I say that I have got absolutely new emotion? Certainly, feelings from victories at European and World Championships are very different. In Daegu I was happy to win but anxious about realisations of my technical skills. I work a lot on my mentality because I’m sure that all limits we have are in our thoughts only. For example, I didn’t go with my team to training camp in South Korea before Daegu because we made detailed analyses of my sport diaries and saw that if I go to compete to another climatic and time zone I don’t need special time for acclimatisation. Why? Because everything is in our brains. I want to be free from any prejudices. I must listen to myself much more than any scientific researches.”

 

 

Saladukha finished the summer season 2011 confidently. She won the Diamond League final, in Brussels, with 14.67 and dominated the Diamond League Race in women’s Triple Jump. On September 18, in Milano, Olha repeated her Daegu result, 14.94 (wind assisted +2.4) and finished the season on a high.

 

She decided to miss the winter season, but participated in several indoor events only to keep up her competition skills. She didn’t make any special jumping and sprint training to show high result but she won the Stockholm event with a new National Indoor record, 14.79.

 

“I cannot believe that it was possible,” her coach Anatoliy Boyko said after Saladukha’s performance in Stockholm. “That result is the significant confirmation of the fact that Olha became stronger mentally and physically. She is an extraordinary person and she can to jump much further than just 15m.”

 

Saladukha dedicated all preparation for London Olympics to improving her speed and technical skills. “We paid a lot of attention to jumping technique,” Olha says. “We watched many jumps of Triple Jump Legends like Inessa Kravets and Jonathan Edwards. I think Edwards’ technique is unique. This is a peak of perfection. I would be happy to put into the action even a couple of his technical elements. Certainly, women’s and men’s Triple Jumps are very different but I don’t try to follow him blindfold. We are creating my own way to high results.”

 

At the end of May, Saladukha made the first steps to Olympic summer 2012 high performances, winning competitions in Rabat and the Diamond League stage in Rome with equal results, 14.75m. One month later she defended her European Champion’s title, achieving a PB 14.99m in the first attempt in the Helsinki final.

 

“It was question of principle to defend my European title,” Saladukha says. “Especially as we didn’t focus on preparation for Helsinki. For me it was just a very nice opportunity to go through Olympic competition model (today is qualification and final is after tomorrow). I don’t obsess with the fact that I again showed my best result in the first attempt. The most important thing is that I felt at ease and improved my PB, even if it was only a 1cm enhancement.”

 

Then Olha was fully focused on London preparation, but one week before her flight to the British capital she slightly injured her take-off knee during a technical practice. From day to day, pain was getting stronger. The situation was terrible as all team doctors were already in London at that time. Olha stopped her training immediately and only a few days later joined the national team in the Olympic Village. After medical examinations, doctors put her performance at the Games under the big question mark. Saladukha had been doing different treatments but nothing helped. She even wasn’t able to jump over the automatic qualification standard of 14.40m, achieved only by four athletes, but made the Olympic final with fifth result, 14.35m.

 

“It was the most difficult and terrible final in my life” Saladukha recalls. “Being a favourite I was only in fourth place till the last round and so decided to stake everything. I took off all my bandages and plasters to feel freer and pushed myself to the limit. I was unable to believe my own eyes when saw 14.79m on the scoreboard. I had risen to third place and it looked like a miracle. That London bronze was much more valuable for me than any previous gold medals from major events.” 

 

In spite of injury, Olha continued her season at Diamond League events in Lausanne (14.42m for 2nd), Birmingham (14.40m for 1st) and Brussels (14.40m for 2nd). She started her preparation for 2013 year only after 2 months rest combined with treatment.

 

Saladukha confirmed her participation in the 2013 European Indoors only 10 days before the competition, making her final decision after her performance at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham, where the 29-year-old Ukrainian won with a world-leading 14.61m.

 

 “Initially I didn’t have Göteborg in my season schedule, but I felt a bit dissatisfied and unfulfilled leaving the field in Birmingham. I have ‘caught’ the physical sensation of my usual jump only once this winter. I want to fix it more deeply as I finished last summer season injured and couldn’t show my model technique after London Olympics. I need to renew feelings of correct jumps to begin preparation for next summer at ease. That is why I decided to continue my indoor performances to Göteborg. I hadn’t had enough special technical work to produce outstanding results at the European indoors. Two weeks before the champs I paid maximum attention to my run-up to make it more accurate. Sweden is my lucky country and if I decided to go to Göteborg I was aiming not only to win, but also set a new National Indoor record.” Saladukha explained then.

 

And she did it successfully in the first attempt in the final, landing at 14.88m.

 

Preparing for the summer season, Olha had all her training camps in the Ukraine. From the beginning of May she was ready to show strong results and confirmed her great shape at the Diamond League event in Eugene on 1 June when she finished second with an 14.85m season best. Though Olha then won the European Team Championships in Gateshead (22 June) she was disappointed with her result of 14.49m and some technical details. After another unsuccessful attempt to improve her SB at the Paris/Saint-Denis Diamond League meeting on 6 June (14.55m), Saladukha took a competitions break till the major championship in Moscow to have time to get rid of technical mistakes and make her jumps more stable.

 

“We did a great job at the training camp in Vinnytsya (Ukraine) before Moscow Worlds. There was calm and amazing atmosphere for deep preparation but didn’t take in account only one thing – the big difference between the surfaces on the runways in Vinnytsya and Luzhniki stadiums. Coming to Moscow I understood that from my first warm-up. My approach was changed because of the fast track and I couldn’t show my usual technique. During the Moscow Final it looked like I was in a hurry to make my attempts and interrupted all three phases: hop, step and jump.”

 

In her best attempt in the Moscow Final, Saladukha landed at 14.65m only (14.69 in qualification) and took the bronze medal. “I was absolutely disappointed” Olha summed up after the competition. “I had no problems, I wasn’t injured, I was absolutely healthy and was in great shape. I was ready to defend my World title from Daegu but it wasn’t my day. One year ago I took my Olympic bronze like my greatest achievement and biggest victory, as I had performed injured there. On the contrary the Moscow bronze medal was something like utter defeat for me.”

 

Already after Saladukha left the Moscow field she decided to prepare for the next World Indoor Championships in Sopot. “I haven’t any medals from World Indoors in my collection, so I have a good chance to try as I didn’t feel fulfilled in Moscow and now I feel sport anger,” Saladukha said while in the Moscow mixed zone.

 

She started her preparation for the 2014 indoor season in October. In November-December Olha made great fundamental and technical work in her Portugal training camp and continued practices in her native Donetsk after the New Year holidays.

 

“I would have liked to perform a bit more before starting in Sopot, but there were no women triple jump events at different one-day meetings in Europe. I was able to compete only twice during the winter in Eaubonne (14.60) and at the national indoors in Sumy, where I showed 14.65 to equal the world-leading result of Russian Yekaterina Koneva. Before the World Indoors we had time to make some technical corrections and despite the terrible and very difficult political situation in the Ukraine, I go to Sopot with good mood and fighting spirit,” Saladukha said before heading to Poland.

 

But she wasn’t able to gain revenge on Yekaterina Koneva at the World Indoor Championships, landing at 14.45m in the Sopot final, and losing by only 1cm to the Russian jumper. “I don’t want to be cunning. I came to Sopot to win the gold medal and to set new national indoor record. Unfortunately, I was too far from my dream that day and felt hurt losing by only one centimetre, but I already was in such situation at London Olympics, where I finished third. None of the women’s triple jump finalists coped to with such kind of track, which was very fickle and difficult for adapting. If I had a couple more competitions during this season, I definitely could show much stronger result. My shape was really great, but mistakes were terrible!” Saladukha confessed.

 

In spite of Olha’s defeat at the WIC, in April Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko awarded Saladukha the Donetsk City Honour Sign for her Sopot achievement and valuable contribution to sport development in the region.

 

Saladukha started to prepare for the 2014 summer season in her native Donetsk, but the political situation there changed for the worse from one day to another. Separatists and terrorists ventured to begin the real war, requiring independent status for the eastern region of Ukraine.

 

“It was impossible to train there from the middle of the May. It was terrible to see armed gunmen, tanks and military hardware on the streets. I took out all my family from Donetsk, decided to prepare for Zürich in Kiev,” Saladukha said. She wandered about different hotels and trainings camps, but at least kept her family far from the combat zone. Preparing for the major event of the season in quiet conditions of the Ukrainian capital, she always turned her thoughts to her native home and couldn’t be focused on training and competitions only. As a result, Saladukha even wasn’t able to achieve 14.40m mark during the season. After a modest 14.33 and 2nd places at both the European Team championships in Braunschweig (21 June and Lausanne Diamond League meeting (3 July), Olha made compulsory decision to stop her performances at different competitions and settled at the Olympic preparation camp nearest Kiev, trying to guard herself from negative and painful information. Just saying that it was not easy is to say nothing, but going to the European Championships in Zürich, Saladukha was extremely concentrated, but pressured to the limit at the same time. Fortunately, one and a half months of ‘hermit's life’ finally led her to her desired result.

 

“I came back! This gold medal was important not only for me, but also for my family, my coach and all my country,” Saladukha wrote on her Facebook page after she defended her European champion title in great style, leaping a season best 14.73 in the Zürich final. But the joy of victory was clouded by continuation of hostilities in Donetsk. Olha wasn’t at home for more than three months and even didn’t know whether she will have ability to come back at all. “My home is in hot spot of Ukraine. I cannot come back there even to take necessary things. I’m just homeless person for now. Where I must get my motivation from? How I can prepare for future competitions and next season?” Saladukha asked.

 

Although state financing was stopped after the end of the official season for the national team, Saladukha rented the flat in Kiev, continuing her preparation for the Continental Cup as member of the European squad. She took 2nd place at Diamond League final in Brussels on 5 September with 14.53 and finished third in overall DL race.

 

“That was the most difficult year in my career, first of all mentally,” Olha confessed “But I was very proud to represent Europe at the Continental Cup and tried to do my best in Marrakech. Certainly, nervousness about situation in Ukraine had a strong influence on my performance. I felt like I had no power, both mental and physical, to compete. As a result, I missed the Continental Cup silver by only one centimetre, leaped to 14.26m and I was really happy that I finished that season with one major medal more,” Saladukha said.

 

Preparing for summer 2015, Olha decided to repeat the strategic scenario from the previous year, but she decided to withdraw from competing at the European Indoors to have much more time for basic work. “I have been in athletics more than 20 years and I feel I need to strengthen my body during the preparation season more deeply and carefully,” Saladukha explains. But in any case years of hard work influenced her health.

 

After she started the outdoor season with great 14.62m at the Shanghai Diamond League on 17 May, Olha got a painful feeling in her back and competed in Eugene where she was third with 14.48m.

 

“I hoped it happened just because of the long flight and little tiredness, but I was wrong. Two weeks later, in Oslo, the pain became much stronger. I continued to train and tried to make some treatment at the same time, but things got worse. I even wasn’t able to pass the 14m mark at the Paris Diamond League, competing with strong acute pain. After coming back home I stopped all training and took the cure, but all ways and methods we use were unsuccessful. I even wanted to cancel my flight to Beijing, but the team coaches asked me not to rush things. Finally, just one week before the World Championships, I breathed with relief as my pain started to go away. Certainly, I will try to do my best in Beijing, but I can predict nothing. Let’s see and fingers crossed,” Saladukha smiles.

 

In 2004 Saladukha graduated from the Institute of sports in Donetsk as a coach in athletics and physical culture teacher. In 2012 she graduated from the jurisprudence faculty of Kiev’s “Ukraine” University as a lawyer specialised in foreign affairs.

 

On 9 November 2007 Saladukha married Denys Kostyuk, an international class cyclist, member of the Ukrainian Olympic team for Beijing, former member of pro continental cyclist team “Lampre ISD” and current member of Kiev’s KOLS Club. They have a mini-museum of their sport achievements and both like bowling.

 

Personal Best

Triple Jump (out/in) 14.99 (2012) – 15.06w (2011) / 14.88 (2013)

 

Yearly Progression

Triple Jump (out/in): 1998: 13.32; 1999: 12.86; 2000: 13.26; 2001: 13.48/13.38; 2002: 13.63/13.66; 2003: 13.03/13.26; 2004: 13.53/13.22; 2005: 14.04/13.42; 2006: 14.41/14.08; 2007: 14.79/14.04; 2008: 14.84/14.52; 2009: -/-; 2010: 14.81/-; 2011: 14.98/14.45; 2012: 14.99/14.79 NR; 2013: 14.85/14.88 NR; 2014: 14.73/14.65; 2015: 14.62/14.14

 

Career Highlights 

1999 9th World Youth Championships
2001 9th European Junior Championships
2002 5th World Junior Championships
2005 4th European U23 Championships
2005 2nd  World University Games
2006 1st European Cup
2006 4th European Championships
2006 6th World Cup
2007 4th European Cup
2007 1st World University Games
2007 7th World Championships
2008 6th World Indoor Championships
2008 1st European Cup
2008 9th Olympic Games
2008 6th World Athletics Final
2010 1st European Team Championships
2010 1st European Championships
2010 2nd Continental Cup
2011 1st European Team Championships
2011 1st World Championships
2012 1st European Championships
2012 3rd Olympic Games
2013 1st European Indoor Championships
2013 1st European Team Championships 
2013 3rd World Championships
2014 2nd World Indoor Championships
2014 2nd European Team Championships
2014 1st European Championships
2014 3rd Continental Cup

 

Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2015.