Ineta RADEVICA, Latvia (Long Jump, Triple Jump)
Born: 13 July 1981, Kraslovska, Latvia
1.76m / 56kg
Coach: Yevgeny Ter-Avanesov
Manager: Pavel Voronkov
It is perhaps unsurprising that Ineta Radevica – who won the European long jump title this year - should have become a long jumper and triple jumper, given that from the age of one year old she was accustomed to playing in the sand of a jumping pit while her mother practised on the track in their home town of Kraslovska, Latvia.
Radevica’s mother acted as her coach in her early years as she embraced a variety of sports including basketball, volleyball and aerobics. “I am glad the wrestling coach only allowed boys in his group!” Radevica added.
Until the age of 17, however, Radevica’s main event was the heptathlon. “Every time before the final 800 metres run I would hide from my mum in a restroom because I was terrified of running the two laps,” Radevica recalled.
But Radevica’s days of having to face the 800 metres were numbered. Happily for her.
“In 1999, my high school graduation year, a horizontal jumps coach from Riga, Jurijs Volkinshteins, explained to me his vision of my jumping abilities and invited me to join his group for a spring training camp in Slovakia,” she said. “I was glad to switch to ‘jumping only’ mode.”
In 1999 Radevica became a student at the University of Latvia, in Riga, and within two years she had progressed to jumping 6.33 metres in the long jump.
“Then somebody in my training group mentioned about the opportunity to study and train in the United States,” she said. “I thought it would be great to experience to live and train abroad, and to learn English. We had some athletes from Latvia already studying in the United States. All of them were students of Wichita State University, so I went to Kansas in 2001.”
After completing an intensive English programme in six months, Radevica began studying economics at Wichita State in January 2002 – and, of course, competing for them.
“The university was interested in me doing as many events as I could so I did the long jump, the triple jump and ran the sprint relay,” Radevica said.
She finished second in the triple jump at the NCAA Championships, and switched the next year to the University of Nebraska, where her progress in the sport took a giant leap forward.
“I was very lucky with the coaches in my career, but working with coach Gary Peppin in Nebraska really taught me a lot,” she recalled. “He had an answer to every question that I was not shy to ask, and he provided me with tons of articles on jumping.
“We had many great discussions, and watched lots of videos. I knew his door was always open for an advice on and off the track. The most important thing was that he was honest, he was as real as life. No wonder I then won most of the battles for the University, including two NCAA titles.
“I think it is Nebraska where my appreciation for the triple jump grew. Until this day triple jump is my favourite discipline. I am fascinated with its complexity and the sense of freedom it gives when you put a good jump together.
“I can only imagine how jumping 15 or 17 metres feels - and I am definitely jealous of athletes who get to experience it!
“I also had that same feeling of jealousy when I saw Heike Drechsler going over seven metres in the long jump. She did it with such ease and grace, and she did not hide her emotions. I was sold - she became my role model.”
Radevica won the bronze medal in the 2003 European under-23 Championships at triple and long jump.
The following year, in the run-up to the Athens Olympics – where she finished 13th in the triple jump and 20th in the long jump - Radevica was one of several female Olympians to reveal, if not all, then quite a bit in a pre-Games feature run by Playboy magazine. For her, it was all good.
“Being featured as one of the 2004 Athens Olympians in Playboy was definitely an experience,” she said. “I was happy with the project and I think it had a positive impact on my public profile.
“Well, I haven’t tried running for President just yet! Although I really don’t have the time for it with the Russian Kontinental Hockey League season approaching…”
Radevica’s interest in ice hockey is something that has developed since 2005 when, by chance, she met the man whom she would marry.
“I went from knowing close to nothing about the game five years ago to being a big fan today – and all because, one cold day in Stockholm when I was sick with a running nose and a cough, a handsome Russian national team ice hockey player, Petr Schastlivy, brought me a cough medication approved by the sports doctor,” she recalled.
“After 18 months of e-mails, long phone conversations, Riga-Moscow flights and visas, I moved to Moscow, where Petr was playing under a contract. It was a new life - a new country, a new culture, a new coach.
”My coach is Yevgeny Ter-Avanesov - he is more of a triple jumper’s coach than a long jumper’s coach, as he coached Danil Burkenya to an Olympic bronze medal in Athens.”
Radevica took fifth place in the long jump at the 2005 European Indoors, in Madrid, and in the 2006 World Indoors, in Moscow.
Her training group includes numerous successful jumpers, including Anna Pyatykh, bronze medallist in last year’s World Championships triple jump.
“Everyone in my group has a great sense of humour, which makes training even more emjoyable,” Radevica said. “My coach, Yevgeny, is a friend of my family, so when in June of 2008 I broke the news that I was pregnant, he was very supportive.”
In February 2009 a baby boy, Mark, was born.
“He is one and a half years old now, and can barely speak,” Radevica said. “But he smiles at the word ‘hockey’ and he always carries a small plastic stick in his hands. He is a big, strong boy already. Maybe he could throw the discus one day, but I doubt he could be a jumper. Time will show.”
Radevica vividly recalls the time when she found herself no more than a long-distance spectator at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I was watching the Olympics on TV, but I felt sure I would soon be jumping again. I was eight and a half months pregnant, walking on the treadmill, making the supervisor nervous. He was reminding me to watch my heart-rate every minute…
“I started easy runs when Mark was three months old, but my way back to the track officially began in Pensacola, Florida at the Athletes’ Performance centre in October 2009.
“I did a high performance training camp for four weeks, working on motivation, mobility, movement and recovery. When I arrived in Moscow in December my jumps coach was impressed with my progress and in January we set a goal - a medal at the European Championships in Barcelona.
“I took it easy indoors, feeling happy to just be back in the sand pit, wearing spikes, then went for another training camp in Pensacola in spring, followed by camps in Portugal and Russia.
“While I was in Portugal, I competed for FC Porto at the national champs, and then the countdown to Barcelona began…”
In Barcelona, she produced a huge career best leap of 6.92m to take the gold, beating her previous best of 6.80 set in 2005.
In doing so, the 29-year-old broke her own national record and became the first ever female European champion from Latvia, matching the achievement of Stanislav Olijars in 2006 over the 110m hurdles.
Radevica dominated her competition from the start, leading in every round until the fourth, when Portugal’s Naide Gomes went ahead with 6.92. But Radevica responded immediately to match Gomes’ effort, and took gold thanks to a second best attempt of 6.87 as against 6.68 by Gomes.
“The competition in Barcelona was amazing,” Radevica said. “To this day I have not found the correct words to describe my emotions. But my coach says that the biggest mistake an athlete can make is living in the past. The gold medal will always bring great memories but I still enjoy the life today, this exact moment, and plan the future, hoping for the best at the London 2012 Olympics.”
Long Jump 6.92 (2010), indoor 6.67 (2007)
Triple Jump 14.12 (2004), indoor 13.89 (2010)
Long Jump: 2000- 6.33; 2001- 6.12 (6.14w); 2002- 6.26 /6.32i; 2003- 6.70 6.41i; 2004- 6.53 /6.41i; 2005- 6.80/6.66i; 2006- 6.46 (6.64w)/ 6.59i; 2007 6.35/ 6.67i; 2008- 6.65 (6.75w)/6.66i; 2009- -/-; 2010- 6.92 NR/ 6.41i
Triple Jump: 1999- 12.64; 2000- 12.80; 2001- 13.12/12.66i; 2002- 13.75/13.26i; 2003- 14.04/13.52i; 2004- 14.12/13.72i; 2005- -/-; 2006- 13.43/-; 2007- -/13.30i; 2008-13.71/-; 2009- /-/; 2010- 13.89/13.89i.
2000 7qA World Junior Championships (Long Jump)
2002 2nd NCAA Championships (Triple Jump)
2003 1st NCAA Championships (Triple Jump)
2003 3rd European under-23 Championships (Long Jump)
2003 3rd European under-23 Championships (Triple Jump)
2004 3rd NCAA Indoor Championships (Long Jump)
2004 1st NCAA Indoor Championships (Triple Jump)
2004 2nd NCAA Championships (Long Jump)
2004 1st NCAA Championships (Triple Jump)
2004 10qB World Indoor Championships (Long Jump)
2004 8qA Olympic Games (Long Jump)
2004 12qA Olympic Games (Triple Jump)
2005 5th European Indoor Championships (Long Jump)
2005 11qA World Championships (Long Jump)
2006 5th World Indoor Championship (Long Jump)
2006 4th European Cup First League Group A
2007 8th European Indoor Championship (Long Jump)
2008 6th World Indoor Championship (Long Jump)
2010 1st European Championships (Long Jump)
Prepared by Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2010.