Russia’s World and Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova in her first IAAF diary entry talks about her time off after her London triumph and thanks Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut for her amazing career.
“My life has recently been full of things that have nothing to do with high jumping – which is quite a nice change. As you know, I completely missed the indoor season. Instead, I spent a lot of time with my family and especially with my daughter, Nika. She is now two-and-a-half already. My mom – who used to help me with Nika – was sick, so in recent weeks I was finally able to be mother for the whole time.
“It’s great to devote all my time and effort just to Nika, but it’s hard to combine this with training. My daughter is growing up so fast, almost every day she is learning new things. Now she says, ‘Mummy, don’t you understand?!’ And this makes me laugh!
“I also had some time for media activities, and visited a basketball game – I love it. I took a photo with the legendary Arvidas Sabonis, the 1988 Olympic champion. He is 2.22m tall – wow, it felt great to stand next to such a tall person!
“Going back to October, we had a great and well-deserved vacation in Egypt together with Ivan Ukhov and his family. Because of visa problems, there were many places that we couldn’t go to, but in the end Egypt turned out a perfect place with lots of sea, sun and fun. Mentally I was completely refreshed after coming back.
“Although I did lots of interviews after the Olympics, I’m rarely recognised by people who pass me in the street. Generally I tend to be spotted when I’m not ready and looking terrible! Maybe it’s because people are used to seeing me on the track and not in everyday clothes. But right after the Games my neighbours left notes for me on the window of my car. They said, ‘Congrats, please come to have tea with us.’ It was so nice and unexpected. It’s moments like that which make you realise that people really appreciate what you are doing.
“I watched the European Indoor Championships of course, and felt so sorry for Tia Hellebaut. I chatted a bit with Tia after Gothenburg, and she said that she had lots of problems and felt exhausted. I tried to cheer her up, and said that in summer it would all be different, and that she was a fighter so she should not give up. But Tia said, ‘for every fighter comes a time when he needs to rest,’ and soon after our chat she announced her retirement.
"I understand her – being a mother of two must be really hard. And I wish Tia all the best in the new period of her life, whatever it is she chooses to do.
“I’m now leaving for my first training camp in Portugal. To be honest I already miss high jumping. Hopefully the fact that I’m fresh both mentally and physically will help me in my preparation for the home World Championships. Let’s talk about it next time.