“Hi friends. It’s been a really busy month for me, with all the travelling between Tokyo, Sochi, Moscow, and I'm now writing this before I fly to Beijing, where I compete at the IAAF World Challenge meet on 21 May.
“After not competing indoors, my year started in Tokyo earlier this month, where I won with a 1.95m jump. I still have mixed feelings about this result.
“On the one hand, I honestly expected more from myself. When I decided to miss the indoor season, I did hope to come back stronger in the summer, and to start jumping two metres or higher from my very first outdoor meet. On the other hand, I had many things that worried me before the Tokyo meeting, like my daughter’s illness and there had been bad weather at my training camp in Sochi that did not let me do some important technical sessions.
“I felt really nervous in Tokyo, almost as much as back in 2011, in my first competition after giving birth. It was so special to compete again after a break of almost eight months. Thanks to this meeting, I realised that I was still unstable from a technical point of view. Anyway, I’ve got enough time ahead to solve this problem. Hopefully, with every competition, I will get closer and closer to my best shape and reach it in August, at my home World Championships.
“It was my first time ever in Tokyo, but unfortunately I did not see much in the city. I only took a walk on the main street, the Ginza. I like Japanese cuisine and especially sushi, but this time I discovered that tempura was not an authentic Japanese dish. The locals told me this tradition had been brought to the country by the Portuguese many years ago. Actually, even the word ‘tempura’ comes from the Portuguese language. You learn something on every trip!
“After I got back home from Japan, wow, it was so hard for me both physically and mentally. I suffered from the jet lag much more than I had expected. For about a week in training, I just could not do anything meaningful!
“I almost did not realise where I was, what the time was, and what I had to do at the moment. Really, it was probably one of the hardest jet lags in my life, and I have travelled to many places.
“On a much more serious note, there was a big train wreck in my native town, Belaya Kalitva, at night on 9 May. About 50 carriages of a train carrying petrol, oil and some chemical substances derailed and exploded. The centre of the explosion was right by the backyard of my house. Even more worrying, the day before the explosion, my mother arrived in Belaya Kalitva with my daughter Nika and my husband.
“My mother said that, at first, she thought a war had started. Explosions, fire, smoke all around, people running away from their homes. As they had just arrived, my family just took their suitcases and ran too.
“Later our neighbours made some jokes about this, saying: ‘We only had time to take our documents, but you even had your suitcases packed!’ It is good to laugh about it now, when everything is over, but at the time there was nothing funny about it. After the explosion, part of the train hit the house which is next to my family home. It burned down and the people got injured. I really cannot talk about this calmly even now.
"Worrying about your family and being unable to do anything is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. Thank God, the people closest to me were OK. Now I am just trying to leave all these hard things behind, and stay positive.
“Recently, I’ve noticed that the IAAF World Youth Championships is on the calendar this year. It will be held in Donetsk, Ukraine and that brought back memories of when I competed at the first World Youth Championships in Poland, back in 1999.
"This was my first ever international competition, and actually my first time abroad. In spite of that, I was quite ambitious and confident before the trip, back home; I was thinking I could get a good result. It seemed so easy back then: just go, jump and win! I laugh now when I think what I was like as a teenager.
“But in practice, of course it was very different. I completely lost my confidence in the call room. On the way to the track I was trembling with fear. My legs were shaking, I felt lost and frightened to death. Looking back, it was a miracle I managed to qualify for the final. It was a close competition but, at the most important moment; I performed well and jumped 1.89m.
“Curiously Blanka Vlasic also competed in Bydgoszcz, but back then we did not even talk. Of course, I had no idea than that we would be rivals for so many years.
“After the competition, there was a nice banquet right in the city square, with live music. I still remember the huge cake that we all shared. So tasty! And I was shocked to see so many athletes from all over the world. I had never seen so many foreign people before!
“I can’t be 100% certain 14 years later, but I’m fairly sure I shared a room in Bydgoszcz with Yelena Isinbayeva. It was nice that we both won, of course. We were just young girls worrying about our first big competition, and I think it was the only thing we talked about.
“Now I can say the World Youth Championships victory gave me a start to my career, and it also gave me the very important lesson of how to control your emotions on the track. I will always remember that fear I felt in the call room before the qualification, and it helped me in other ways. I promise you I have never been over-confident again.
“Talk to you soon, Anna.”