Created 30 July 2012
Lyukman ADAMS, Russia (Triple Jump)
Born 24 September 1988, Saint Petersburg
1.94 m / 87kg
Coach: Yuriy Zuyenko, Evgeny Ter-Avanesov
When Lyukman Adams first started to perform at the elite level, there were a lot of questions about whether Russia had an American competing for them. The questions were clearly caused by Adams’ dark skin, foreign name and solid results in an event that wasn’t among the strongest ones in Russian athletics.
But the truth is that Lyukman Adams, the son of a Russian mother and a Nigerian father, was born and raised in Russia, in Saint Petersburg. From the early years it was obvious that Lyukman and his sibling Lionel were quite tall and athletic, just like their father. “My dad was a promising football player in Nigeria, he even played for the national junior team, but he left his country to get the education in Russia,” Adams explained.
Lionel followed the footsteps of his father and started playing football; now the 17-year-old athlete is training with the main team of the CSKA Moscow football club. Lyukman was first captivated by basketball, but then he tried athletics. “I started growing fast only when I was 16 or 17, until then I was rather short and skinny, that’s why I wasn’t a promising basketball player then. But I was fast, that’s why I tried athletics. I loved doing different events, even shot put and javelin, but my main focus was sprint. But after a few years my results stopped increasing, then I tried the long jump at the competition, just for fun. But it turned out that my speed was sufficient to win in this event,” Adams recalled.
The next step was the triple jump. In his native city he was coached by Yuriy Zuyenko. After a couple of years in the triple jump Lyuk (that’s his short name) found himself stuck at marks just under 15.90. That’s when his coach, who specialized at working with sprinters, advised him to move to Moscow and join the training group of Yevgeniy Ter-Avanesov, the coach of Olympic medallist Danila Burkenya and World Championships medallist Anna Pyatykh.
Having spent only six months in the new training group, Adams won the Russian Junior Championships with a PB of 16.75 and then grabbed the gold at the European Junior Championships in Hengelo. But the next couple of years were quiet. In 2008 he managed to set an indoor PB of 16.86, in 2009 he hardly competed at all. “I had a nagging misdiagnosed injury. I thought that the problem was with tendons in my ankle after I sprained it at the training session. But it turned out there was a fracture – a small part of the bone that broke off. In March of 2010 I finally underwent surgery,” Adams recalled.
Only three months after the surgery, at the Russian Cup in Yerino, Adams produced a PB of 17.17 and a wind-aided leap of 17.21. Another wind-aided attempt over 17 m (17.02) at the Russia Championships brought him a silver medal and a ticket to the European Championships. In Barcelona he finished sixth. “I was too self-confident and too relaxed in the qualification round. So sure to make the final that I made two fouls and then realized that I had only three attempts, not six. In the final I was also confident that I could get on the podium, but this time that made me tense and even angry. You can never be at your best in that kind of state of mind,” Adams recalled.
The beginning of 2011 was promising. Lyukman improved his personal best by 15 cm (17.32) at the Moscow Indoor Championships. But he didn’t confirm his shape at the Russian Indoor Championships, jumping 16.80 for second place, and wasn’t included in the team for the European Indoors. Unfortunately, the summer was no better, as Adams had a slight injury that however didn’t allow him to train and perform at his best, and he decided to wrap up the summer campaign after one below-par outing.
Coming into the Olympic year of 2012 Adams was extremely eager to resume competing. He understood that men’s triple jump in Russia lacked a leader. Burkenya had switched to judging, experienced Igor Spasovkhodsky was far from his best results, the new generation (Aleksey Fedorov, Taras Moiseenko and Adams himself) lacked consistency and struggled with injuries and the junior Yuiry Kovalev was only starting his way to the top. So Adams decided not to wait to take the lead. He won the National Indoor Championships and got his ticket to Istanbul to take part in the World Indoor Championships.
In Istanbul, Adams had a great start with 17.04 leap in qualification and 16.98 in the first attempt in the final. The American duo of Will Claye and Christian Taylor was far ahead, but the bronze was almost up for grabs. But Adams kept fouling until the 5th attempt, when he produced his personal best of 17.36 which meant that he became the bronze medallist of the World Indoors. “Having studied the statistics I knew that 17.30-17.40 might be enough to get on the podium. And I also knew that except the guys from the US all the finalists were beatable. After making a valid first jump in the final I started adjusting the approach, but couldn’t figure out the margin, that’s where all the fouls came from. When I landed in the pit after my fifth jump, I thought that it was a bit further than 17 m. But then I heard my coach’s applause, turned my head around and saw 17.36 on the screen! All I could do until the end of the competition was to pray that no one beat me in the final round. This medal is very important for me, because I had a very prolonged competition break. Now I’m extremely motivated to go to the Olympics,” Lyukman said.
By the way, Adams always demonstrates a very good knowledge of stats. Especially when it comes to his role model, Jonathan Edwards. “I deeply respect this athlete. Modern triple jumpers are mostly tall guys, just like me, my height is 1.94, but Edwards was like 10 cm shorter, and he achieved remarkable results due to his hard work and dedication. Before I got my current shoe contract I even bought myself the Asics spikes, the exact same model as Edwards used for competition. By the way, at first he was relatively average – jumped 17.40, but then he was missing in action for some time, probably tried new training approach, and came back to set the World record and dominate for almost 10 years. I have never met him in person, but I’d love to one day, maybe I’ll have a chance in London,” Adams smiled.
Adams’ love for numbers also relates to his biggest hobby so far – playing poker. He even admits that he’d love to be a professional player after his athletic career. “I practice regularly, mostly online and only in the evenings after my training sessions, I also finished some courses. But of course I’m not grounded well enough yet, but I learn. I would never play before the workout or the competition. And I never put big money on it, as I play not for earnings, but for experience,” Adams explained.
Adams didn’t lie about his levels of motivation. He started his summer Olympic campaign in May with a personal best of 17.53 set at the Russian Team Championships in Sochi. Then he won his first ever Diamond League meeting – Oslo Bislett Games – beating World champion Taylor and European U23 champion Sheryf El Sheryf from Ukraine. And Adams was the only one to leap over 17.00 (17.06) at the National Olympic Trials. “The experience of Istanbul and Oslo really gave me a lot. After jumping along the Americans and other renowned rivals I feel more confident, more experienced. And I believe that I can do well in London,” Adams said after his victory in Cheboksary.
By the way, Lyukman has a special goal in mind for the Olympics. According to his declarations, he wants to break the national record of 17.77, which was set by Aleksandr Kovalenko in 1987 and equalled (but indoor) by Leonid Voloshin in 1994.
2005:15.97; 2006: 15.16; 2007:16.75; 2008:16.78 (16.86i), 2009:16.20 (16.22i); 2010:17.17; 2011: 15.60 (17.32i); 2012: 17.53
2007 1st Russian Junior Indoor Championships (Penza) 16.45
2007 1st Russian Junior Championships (Sochi) 16.75
2007 1st European Junior Championships (Hengelo) 16.50
2010 2nd Russian Championships (Saransk) 17.02w
2010 6th European Championships (Barcelona) 16.78
2011 2nd Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 16.80
2012 1st Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 17.04
2012 3rd World Indoor Championships (Istanbul) 17.36
2012 1st Russian Club Championships (Sochi 17.53
2012 1st Russian Championships (Moscow) 17.06
Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2012