Russia’s Tatyana Chernova emerged as the rising star of the women’s Heptathlon during the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge meeting in Arles (2 / 3 June). There in France the reigning World Junior and Youth champion totalled an impressive 6768w points.
Although the result could not be ratified as a new World Junior record because the wind blew very strongly in the 100m Hurdles and in the 200m, she showed the potential to become the future star of women’s Heptathlon. The tailwind reached a speed of +6.1 m/s in the hurdles (13.04) and of +5.2 m/s in the 200 (23.59) but it should be said that wind blew steadily during the first day affecting the High Jump where the 19-year-old Russian managed to set a new PB at 1.82m despite the difficult conditions. During the second day she also scored new lifetime bests in the Long Jump (6.61 with a legal wind of +1.2 m/s) and in the Javelin Throw (53.43m).
“Javelin is my favourite event. But I love all events”, said Chernova who did not show any major weak points across the seven events, so establishing herself as the most serious threat to World, Olympic and European champion Carolina Klüft whose dominance has continued since 2002.
“I came to Arles to break the World Junior record but the wind prevented the ratification. It was very hard to run the 200 metres in windy conditions. But I am very happy with my PB in the Long Jump. In the High Jump I narrowly missed 1.85. In the Javelin I set my PB but I could throw better. It was a very important win in Arles because it was my first competition in the IAAF Challenge”, said Chernova.
After the competition Chernova, who is still a junior, was not sure about her future plans. “I am still thinking with my coach whether to compete at the World Championships in Osaka or at the European Junior Championships in Hengelo.”
If she opts to make the trip to Japan, the Heptathlon clash between Klüft and Chernova may feature as one of the highlights of the World Championships, especially considering the extraordinary competitive spirit of the Swedish star.
Chernova hails from a sports family. Her mother Lyudmila won an Olympic 4x400m gold medal in Moscow 1980. Her father Sergey competed in the Decathlon and was the first coach of Tatyana when she was 10 years old. Her younger brother is a hurdles specialist. Since she was 14 she has been trained by Vladimir Kudzyatsev, who also coaches Olympic Long Jump bronze and twice World silver medallist Tatyana Kotova who leapt to a 7.42 PB in 2002.
“I live in Krasnodor in southern Russia where I attend the Olympic Institute. When I began with athletics I competed in four events: 60 metres, High Jump, 600 metres and ball throwing. I managed to run the 60 metres in 7.9, the 600 metres in 1:46 and cleared 1.72 in the High Jump at the age of 14.”
"In 2005 I won the World Youth title in Marrakesh with 5991 points (a world age best). Last year I won the World junior title in Bejing with 6227 points. It was great to win as a junior in Beijing. My father was in Beijing and we could celebrate that win together.” Chernova may celebrate another medal next year when she returns to the Chinese capital which will play host to the Olympic Games.
But while Chernova is focused on future athletics goals she also has many hobbies. “I like driving cars, drawing, taking pictures and computer technology.”
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF