Updated 31 July 2008
Anna BOGDANOVA, Russia (Pentathlon/Heptathlon)
Born: 21 October 1984, St. Petersburg
1.78m / 64kg
Coaches: Andrey Radukh, Ivan Grebenschikov, Vladimir Matveev
Had it not been for the poor health in her early childhood, Anna Bogdanova would most likely have become a swimmer. Her father, Andrey Bogdanov, was a 4x200m freestyle relay silver medallist at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and her mother, Tatyana, was also once a professional swimmer. But she gave birth to Anna at 19 and stopped swimming early.
“In my childhood I fell ill very often and my parents were afraid I would catch a cold when going out of the pool,” Bogdanova recalled. “Moreover, I think they’d had enough of this hard work in swimming themselves and did not want me to follow their path.”
When Bogdanova was about eight, the family moved to Sochi, one of the best venues for athletics training in Russia. Warm climate and the seaside were markedly different from the winds and high humidity that are typical for St. Petersburg, where Bogdanova was born.
In Sochi, a school teacher invited Bogdanova to try athletics. As is the case with most kids in Russia, she started from the all-round basic training of Pentathlon but, as she was not outstanding at one discipline in particular, she stuck with Pentathlon. Together with her first coach, Evgeny Kachanov, she progressed quickly but, at 13, the family needed to return to St. Petersburg.
Here Bogdanova was coached by Andrey Radukh but her results were not entirely satisfying. “It was a strange thing,” she said. “On the one hand, I was progressing and constantly improving my results. But, on the other, this was still not enough to be in the national team, let alone win medals.”
Bogdanova changed coach and started training with Alexander Cherepanov. But her progress slowed and there seemed no prospect of her making the Russian team as her results did not impress. Unable to improve, and without knowing why or how to, she decided to give up athletics in frustration.
“The decisive moment was my relationship with the coach,” Bogdanova said. “I felt like I had no chance for success, like I was absolutely hopeless. I had no way out other than to give up. I did not feel that he believed in my future success. He probably did not think that I was able to achieve something in athletics and it’s impossible to work with a person who does not believe in you.”
It was only three years ago that Bogdanova tried to forget about athletics. She completely stopped training and found a job. “For three months I was a marketing manager in one of the city magazines,” she recalled. “I had to choose advertisements to be placed in the magazine and look for new sponsors. This was something so different from my previous life, and I liked it.”
This might have been the end of her career but for a call one day from Radukh. He found the words to persuade Bogdanova to restart her sports career and it was a return which proved extremely difficult. Bogdanova had already lost the state support and had no financial resources at all. They needed not only the money to live on but also investments for training camps and rehabilitation.
“What I am now is thanks to my coach,” Bogdanova said. “That time three years ago he gave me everything – money, mental support and self confidence. Even now I have the feeling that, if I ask, he would give me his last piece of bread.”
First results at the regional competitions came half a year after Bogdanova and Radukh started working together again, in the summer of 2005. In 2006 she was twice second at the Russian Youth Championships – indoors and outdoors – showing a level of results that she had never shown before.
In the winter of 2007 Bogdanova achieved her first big success, winning the Russian Indoors with a PB of 4488. She qualified for the European Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, where she was only 13th, but the result was not the most important thing. She said: “Just imagine, Birmingham was my first international competition. I had never even taken part even in the commercials (professional circuit meetings) before. It was the first time competing abroad in my life. I had to go without my coach and this made me nervous.
“I think I will always remember the moment when I went out for my first race and saw the stadium full with the people shouting and supporting us. This atmosphere was so beautiful. I just could not concentrate on my results, I had first to get used to what was happening around me.”
Birmingham was special to Bogdanova also in a way that it is special for every person when a dream is coming true. “Carolina Klüft has always been my idol,” she said. “I have been watching her on TV, analysing her results. She seemed to me like a person from another planet. And, in Birmingham, I not only just got acquainted with her – I competed with her. Near Klüft I was feeling like a schoolgirl. I like Carolina very much because she is a great athlete but she never shows it in real life. I really respect her as she is quite open and does not place herself higher than others.”
The 2007 World Championships, in Osaka, was the second big tournament for Bogdanova. She finished a satisfied 10th in the Heptathlon (6243). “I almost repeated my PB and, considering all circumstances, this was great,” she said. “The acclimatisation was very hard for me and I could not get used to hot weather and extremely high humidity in Japan.”
After Osaka, Bogdanova changed in a way every person changes when achieving success. But not every person would be able to achieve success in her situation. “In 2007 I clearly saw the goal and understood why I am working this hard,” she said. “Of course I knew what I wanted before, but to see it, to feel the atmosphere, is something completely different. Now I have much higher motivation and resources to concentrate only on my training.”
From the start of the 2008 season, Bogdanova began working with three coaches, to help her improve particular disciplines. Consistent in jumps, Bogdanova still needs progress in sprinting and the Shot Put. She improved her PB for Pentathlon to 4762 in the Russian Indoors, now ranking third in the IAAF Top Lists.
“If, this time a year ago, I had been told I would be the National champion, have the third leading result in the world, and go to the World Championships, I would have thought the person was kidding,” Bogdanova laughed. At the World Indoor Championships, in Valencia, she won the bronze medal, which she described as an “unbelievable result.”
Bogdanova lost in Valencia only to well-known world leaders – Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut and Kelly Sotherton from Great Britain. “I was not thinking about any places, I was just trying to show my maximum in every event,” Bogdanova said. “It is good there is no Javelin indoors, as it is my weakest event. I am working hard to improve it but still I wish there was no javelin in Hepathlon,” Anna smiles.
Bogdanova’s bronze medal was, in a way, special as it was the first for the Russian team in Valencia. “A proper start is a good sign, so I was especially happy to share my confidence and joy with the whole team,” Bogdanova said.
The bronze medal transformed Bogdanova from underdog to one of the favourites for Olympic team selection. According to the established rules, to qualify an athlete had either to be among the best two Russians at the international tournament in Götzis, Austria, or win the National Trials two weeks later. Bogdanova finished third in Götzis, losing only, among compatriots, to World Junior champion Tatyana Chernova, who was first.
“The competition in Götzis started for me just great,” Bogdanova recalled. “On the first day I managed to set four PBs – in 200m, High Jump, Shot Put and 100m Hurdles. It was unbelievable for me. I was leading in such a strong company. But, on the second day, I long jumped only 6.49. That was not so good for one of my strongest events. Javelin and 800m were probably ok for me. I am still learning how to do these two (she smiles). I went from first to third but still it was great. My goal was to qualify for the Olympics without competing at the National Trials and I managed it. That was most important.”
After Götzis Bogdanova almost stopped competing and started working especially for the Olympics. Her only start was at a local competition in the Long Jump in Yaroslavl, which ended with a PB 6.61. However, this was not ratified as there was no proper equipment or international judges.
“I want to bring my recent positive impulse to the Olympics,” Bogdanova said. “My goal is not about any places. I want to improve my PBs in every event as much as possible. If I manage that I would leave Beijing self-satisfied, no matter which place I take. I know only one formula of success. It is universal. Work hard.”
Heptathlon 6452 (2008)
Pentathlon 4762i (2008)
200m 24.42 (2008)
800m 2.10.98 (2007)
100m Hurdles 13.35 (2008)
High Jump 1.88 (2008)
Long Jump 6.51i (2008)
Shot Put 14.64 (2008)
Javelin 39.91 (2007)
Heptathlon: 2004: 5250; 2005: -; 2006: 5785; 2007: 6289. 2008: 6452
Pentathlon: 2005: 4139; 2006: 4349; 2007: 4488; 2008: 4762.
2006 2nd (Heptathlon) Russian Youth Championships (Kazan) 5785
2006 2nd (Pentathlon) Russian Indoor Championships U23 (Moscow) 4349
2007 1st (Pentathlon) Russian Indoor Championships (Krasnodar) 4488
2007 13th (Pentathlon) European Indoor Championships (Birmingham) 4272
2007 10th (Heptathlon) World Championships (Osaka) 6243
2007 3rd (Heptathlon) Decastar (Talence) 6003
2008 1st (Pentathlon) Russian Indoor Championships (St Petersburg) 4762
2008 3rd (Pentathlon) World Indoor Championships (Valencia) 4753
2008 3rd (Heptathlon) Götzis Hypobankmeeting (Götzis) 6452
Prepared by Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.