Updated 16 July 2012
Olha SALADUHA, Ukraine (Triple Jump)
Born: 4 June 1983, Donetsk
1.75cm / 56kg
Coach Anatoliy Boyko
In December 2006, Olha Saladuha was named the ‘Charm and Beauty’ of Ukrainian athletics at the National Athletics Awards, “Athena 2006.” She was happy and promised to become “The Ukrainian Athlete of the Year” in future. What nobody knew, except those people close to her at the time, was that she had almost quit athletics two years earlier. Her happiness now was a transformation.
At the age of 9 Saladuha went to the athletics group coached by Zoya Boyko in Donetsk’s Sergey Bubka Club. Her parents, especially mother Liudmyla, who was a swimmer at a young age, supported their daughter’s decision completely. Saladuha began her training as hurdler because she liked the event best of all.
Three years later Saladuha moved to more professional group coaching by the husband of her first trainer, Anatoliy Boyko. The daughter of her coaches, Olha Boyko, was a Master class triple jumper (13.97) and they trained together. Within half a year Saladuha had changed her priority in athletics to Triple Jump. In May 1998, at the age of 14, she achieved third place at U23 Ukrainian Championships with a PB 13.32.
In 1999 Saladuha reached the Final at the 1st World Youth Championships, in Bydgoszcz, Poland (12.36 in qualifying rounds) but managed only 9th place (12.76). For a while, she was unable to improve her results but on 19 May 2001 she set a PB 13.48 to finish 3rd at the Ukrainian University Games in Kiev. Two months later, in Grosseto, Italy, she finished 9th at the European Junior Championships. The following year she improved to 5th (13.17) in the World Junior Championships, in Kingston, and was the leading European.
“My results grew too slowly and I decided to change something in my life,” Saladuha recalled. “First of all, I moved to another group, coached by Anatoliy Holubtsov (former trainer of World record holder and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Champion Inessa Kravets). I trained in his group for two years (2003-2004). Holubtsov provides a very interesting training system but the strangest I have seen. I could not understand and I did not want to understand.”
For two years running, Saladuha had one injury after another. By the end of 2004 she had jumped only 13.53 and was so disillusioned that she decided to leave athletics, she revealed recently. “It was a quick and steady decision,” she said. “I came back home but my first coaches asked me to try once more. I did not want to do this but agreed with them because of big respect,” she said.
Saladuha returned to Anatoliy Boyko in November 2004 but made up her mind to stay in athletics only after the 2005 summer season. It was a year of hesitation and fighting previous injuries. Finally, after the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey, in which she finished 2nd (13.86), she decided to stay in the sport.
In the winter of 2006, coached by Boyko, Saladuha jumped over the 14m mark for the first time at the EAA Permit event in Pireas. In June 2006, she won the European Cup, in Malaga, with 14.10 and then improved her PB to 14.28 for 5th at the Golden League meeting in Rome.
“On 9 August, at the European Championships in Göteborg, I finished 4th with a PB 14.38 and, at the end of August, in Rieti, I added 3cm more,” Saladuha said. “I was surprised by my 2006 season and self-satisfied. But, when I came back to Ukraine, I read a lot of criticism about myself. I was driven to despair but I soon understood that Ukrainians keep up with my sport career and want to see a successor to World record holder Inessa Kravets and Sydney Olympic bronze medallist, Yelena Govorova. And they are right.”
It was a big stimulus for Saladuha to improve her PB in 2007 to 14.79 and win gold at the World University Games in Bangkok. She then retruned to Ukraine and, one week later, had to go to the Osaka World Championships. She was in great shape but didn’t cope with reacclimatisation. In Osaka, she had to settle for 7th place (14.60)
Saladuha was ready to fight for a medal at the World indoor Championships, in Valencia, in March 2008 but, in the qualification round, she damaged her take-off foot. In tears in warm-up for the Final, because of the pain, she achieved 14.32 and finished 6th.
However, the 2008 summer season began well for Saladuha. In nine competitions, she had a worst result of 14.52 in Lille and personal best at the National Championships with 14.84 in Kiev. “I have not unfounded hopes to improve my results even more this summer,” she said. “We have added two steps to my running start and worked hard on my third phase. I have become more strong, powerful and quick. All of this gives me hope of a mark of about 15m.”
But at the Beijing Olympics Saladuha couldn’t fulfil herself. She leaped 14.46 in the qualification round and went out to the final with 7th result. “I was sure I’ll achieve 15m mark in Olympics final,” Olga remembers. “But my great feelings and big wishes played a nasty trick on me. I leaped 14.70 and missed just 3 centimetres from 8th place. I was really confused and went back to athlete’s village in tears. My husband was understanding and just told me: “Don’t worry. You just need a rest and I think it must be maternity leave. Then you will get your Olympic medal in London…” To be honest I didn’t want to continue this season but I had to perform my functions.”
Saladuha finished the Olympic season at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart achieving 6th place with 14.40. In October 2008 she stopped her training because of pregnancy. On 1 June 2009 Olha gave a birth to daughter Diana and one month later she appeared on the Donetsk training stadium.
“My first practices were terrible,” Olha said. “After delivery I was very weak and emaciated. I was able to walk and do some exercises for flexibility only. Then I had a long period of jogging and different trainings for body’s strengthening. In November I began a little work with weights but it was just 20-30kg.”
Olha returned for her usual practices only in March 2010, with the phantasmal dream to achieve the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Barcelona. But she began the 2010 summer season with an impressive jump of 14.76 at the Donetsk Region Cup. “I could not believe my eyes,” Saladuha recalls. “My coach told me before these competitions that I can jump over 14m, maybe14.10-14.20. But nobody expected so high a result at the beginning of the season.”
At the end of May, Saladuha won the National Cup in Yalta with 14.78 and booked her ticket to the European Team Championships. In Bergen she won with 14.39 only, but because of the loss of her luggage she had to jump in new spikes which made bleeding blisters on her feet. But after this victory Olha understood that she could fight for the highest places at the European Championships.
In Barcelona, Saladuha went through qualification easily, leaping 14.49 at her first attempt. In the final she set her SB and won with 14.81.
“There is a very fast track in the Barcelona Stadium,” Olha says. “After giving the birth to my daughter, I became light and uninhibited and I just used these qualities on the modern track. Certainly I was happy because, at the beginning of the season, I just dreamed to go to the European Championships. But during the final I have understood that I could jump over 15m there. The second chance to do it I had at the Continental Cup in Split but it wasn’t easy because of the long season. Moreover, after the victory at the European Championships, I felt a bit tired and relaxed. Now I understand that my silver medal from Split with 14.70 is a very good achievement. I could finished ahead World champion Yargelis Savigne, but lost to Olga Rypakova, who jumped a PB and new Asian Record with 15.25. Certainly, physically I was not ready to jump so far that time.”
During winter 2010-2011, Saladuha worked a lot on the technical details of her jump and on improving her force. She didn’t have the aim to participate at European Indoor Championships in Paris and competed in three indoor competitions, achieving only an SB of 14.45m in Düsseldorf.
“All the year, we look to the World Championships in Daegu,” Saladuha says. “All my high results at Diamond League events are only definition phases of my main goal of the season 2011. I was not surprised when I set my PB at the first summer competition, in Eugene, on 4 June with 14.98. Thanks to Nike, I had a business class flight and came to the USA very fresh and not tired. At the European Team Championships in Stockholm I had the task to win and nothing more. I did it and jumped 14.85, setting a new Stadium Record.”
One month later, Olha came back to Stockholm for the Diamond League event on 29 July, where she jumped over the 15m mark the first time in her career and won the competition with amazing 15.06. But Saladuha achieved that attempt with wind assistance, +2.3m/s.
“It looks bit strange but I had no emotions and great happiness, maybe because mentally I was ready for this result more than one year, - Olha says. – Moreover, my jump over 15 meters was far from high standards technically. I know all my mistakes and work a lot to make my jump more perfect. My technique became much better than last year, but not enough to be ideal. We tried to refine many parts of my jump till the World Championships in Daegu and hoped to improve my PB at the main competition of the year.”
In the South Korea final, Saladuha made her first attempt as a test one, landed at the 14.94m mark and was sure that it would be the day to jump over 15m. “But the more I tried to do my best, the more my jumps looked squeezed and constrained. I had very many ways to improve my result much more, but I couldn’t realise my shape. Thank God it was enough to become a winner. Could I say that I have got absolutely new emotion? Certainly, feelings from victories at European and World Championships are very different. In Daegu I was happy to win but anxious about realisations of my technical skills. I work a lot on my mentality because I’m sure that all limits we have are in our thoughts only. For example, I didn’t go with my team to training camp in South Korea before Daegu because we made detailed analyses of my sport diaries and saw that if I go to compete to another climatic and time zone I don’t need special time for acclimatisation. Why? Because everything is in our brains. I want to be free from any prejudices. I must listen to myself much more than any scientific researche
Saladuha finished the summer season 2011 confidently. She won the Diamond League final, in Brussels, with 14.67 and dominated the Diamond League Race in women’s Triple Jump. On September 18, in Milano, Olha repeated her Daegu result, 14.94 (wind assisted +2.4) and finished the season on a high.
She decided to miss the winter season, but participated in several indoor events only to keep up her competition skills. She didn’t make any special jumping and sprint training to show high result but she won the Stockholm event with a new National Indoor record, 14.79.
“I cannot believe that it was possible,” her coach Anatoliy Boyko said after Saladuha’s performance in Stockholm. “That result is the significant confirmation of the fact that Olha became stronger mentally and physically. She is an extraordinary person and she can to jump much further than just 15m.”
Saladuha dedicated all preparation for London Olympics to improving her speed and technical skills. “We paid a lot of attention to jumping technique,” Olha says. “We watched many jumps of Triple Jump Legends like Inessa Kravets and Jonathan Edwards. I think Edwards’ technique is unique. This is a peak of perfection. I would be happy to put into the action even a couple of his technical elements. Certainly, women’s and men’s Triple Jumps are very different but I don’t try to follow him blindfold. We are creating my own way to high results.”
At the end of May, Saladuha made the first steps to Olympic summer 2012 high performances, winning competitions in Rabat and the Diamond League stage in Rome with equal results, 14.75m. One month later she defended her European Champion’s title, achieving a PB 14.99m in the first attempt in the Helsinki final.
“It was question of principle to defend my European title,” Saladuha says. “Especially as we didn’t focus in preparation for Helsinki. For me it was just a very nice opportunity to go through Olympic competition model (today is qualification and final is after tomorrow). I don’t obsess with the fact that I again showed my best result in the first attempt. The most important thing is that I felt at ease and improved my PB, even if it was only a 1cm enhancement. I hope to be in great shape for London Olympics. Everything is going according to our plans. Definitely my jump has changed for the better.”
In 2004 Saladuha graduated from the Institute of sports in Donetsk as a coach in athletics and physical culture teacher. From 2004 until today, she has been a student of the jurisprudence faculty in Kiev’s “Ukraine” University.
On 9 November 2007 Saladuha married Denys Kostyuk, an international class cyclist, member of the Ukrainian Olympic team for Beijing and current member of pro continental cyclist team “Lampre ISD”. They have a mini-museum of their sport achievements and both like bowling. Olha has a big collection of cuddly toys, with a favourite huge lion, and a collection of different perfumes (more than 50!).
Triple jump: 14.99 (2012) – 15.06w (2011)
Triple jump: 1998: 13.32; 1999: 12.86; 2000: 13.26; 2001: 13.48; 2002: 13.63/13.66i; 2003: 13.03/13.26i; 2004: 13.53; 2005: 14.04; 2006: 14.41; 2007: 14.79; 2008: 14.84; 2009: -; 2010: 14.81; 2011: 14.98; 2012: 14.99
1999 9th World Youth Championships
2001 9th European Junior Championships
2002 5th World Junior Championships
2005 4th European U23 Championships
2005 2nd World University Games
2006 1st European Cup
2006 4th European Championships
2006 6th World Cup
2007 4th European Cup
2007 1st World University Games
2007 7th World Championships
2008 6th World Indoor Championships
2008 1st European Cup
2008 9th Olympic Games
2008 6th World Athletics Final
2010 1st European Team Championships
2010 1st European Championships
2010 2nd Continental Cup
2011 1st European Team Championships
2011 1st World Championships
2012 1st European Championships
Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008-2012.