Updated 26 July 2008
Darya PCHELNIK, Belarus (Hammer Throw)
Born: 20 December 1981; Grodno
1.85 / 95kg
Coach: Igor Tsitsorin
Manager: Ludmila Olijar
Sport has appealed to Darya Pchelnik since childhood and, when asked what she would like to grow up to be, she answered: “A gymnast or a cosmonaut”. It was difficult to become a cosmonaut but, as a more attainable goal, there was always sport. Sport pulled at her but her mother was against it. Being tall and sporty, she was invited by coaches to many sports – including volleyball, basketball and athletics.
She went in for basketball but, at the Games of Belarus, she met girls who would go on to represent the country in that sport at international level and later the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “I trained hard but I could not imagine how hard I would have to train to compete with them on an equal level,” Pchelnik recollected. “This came as a disappointment to me.”
At the time, Pchelnik was studying at the sports faculty of the Grodno University. “Runners Volha Krautsova and Natasha Vasilevskaya studied with me,” Pchelnik said. “They both lived in one hostel with Volha Tsander. Having learnt of my concerns, they talked them over with the trainer, who suggested I try the Hammer Throw with Igor Tsitsorin. I liked it and decided to continue. At that time I was 18-years-old.”
Pchelnik was surrounded with a star group - Ivan Tsikhan, Svetlana Sudak, Mikalai Aulasevich, Volha Tsander. And all of them trained in Grodno under Tsitsorin. To the coach, it seemed at first that she would work for month or two and would then give up. But Pchelnik was persistent.
The hammer is such a difficult kind of sport that its elements should start to be understood from the age of 14 years - and she was already 18. Pole Kamila Skolimovska became the Olympic champion at 17 years. At 18, Pchelnik threw only 50 metres, having no concept of power preparation.
“There is a clear period over which an athlete can mature,” Pchelnik said. “Eight to 10 years is standard. But I could not be content when I lost. I wanted to throw further, to get onto the podium. The desire to be the best pushed me into heavy training. I went for quantity instead of quality.”
Upset that she was not chosen for the 2004 Olympic Games, Pchelnik used it as a stimulus. Svetlana Sudak went to Athens, as she had thrown 30cm further than Pchelnik but, in their most recent contest, she had lost to Darya by two metres. In Athens, Sudak failed to reach the Final, which motivated Pchelnik to prepare even more intensely for the next Olympic Games.
For two years she worked on increasing her volume of training so that, by 2007, she threw a personal best 71.29, and won the World University Games gold medal in Bangkok, even though she was still in heavy training. In 2008 she pushed her best out to 76.33. “As I was improving I never had the desire to throw away everything, to stop training,” she said. “The better the result, the more I developed a feeling of confidence, of wanting to aim higher.
“I like this sport. It is my sport and I can surprise the world. Some surprise the world by sports, some by science, some by another kind of activity. I wish to surprise the world with a record like Yuriy Sedykh who retired and his record held for 20 years (86.74, set 1986). My more modest aim for the Olympic Games, in Beijing, is to establish a personal best. What position that will give me only time will tell.”
2002 - 64.40; 2003 - 63.36; 2004 - 69.16; 2005 - 71.08; 2006 - 70.32; 2007 - 71.29; 2008 - 76.33.
2005 q World Championships
2005 10th World University Games
2007 9th c European Cup Winter Throwing
2007 1st World University Games
Prepared by Mikhail Dubitski for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.