Created 12 July 2012
Sergey SHUBENKOV, Russia (110 m Hurdles)
Born: 4 October 1990, Barnaul, Siberia
185 cm/ 75 kg
Coach: Sergey Klevtsov
"Wonder boy" Shubenkov recently beat the Russian record which was two years older than him. Moreover, the 21-year-old became the first European champion in the history of Russian high hurdles. In the country where men sprinters could not even qualify for the Olympics, Shubenkov is the only rising sprint star for ages.
"In hurdles the situation in Russia is generally better than in flat sprints,” Shubenkov comments. "In my event people regularly took part at the Olympics and the World Championships, so it was easier for me as I felt part of the tradition.”
Shubenkov's amazing progress happened exactly in the Olympic season. In one year, he managed to improve his PB by almost half a second - from 13.46 to 13.09. What is even more amazing for Russian reality, in the previous years Shubenkov's progress was slowed down by his studies.
"For four years I studied to be a lawyer in my home town at Barnaul University,” Shubenkov says. "It was not just a formality, I went to the University every day except when I was away at the training camps or competitions. Now that I've got my diploma, I have much more time for trainings. And also, my coach changed several things in my physical and technical preparation. This all together helped me to improve my results.”
Shubenkov was born in the city of Barnaul, which is in Siberia. This is the hometown of Olympic medallist long jumper Tatyana Kotova and also Sergey's mother, European 1986 silver medallist in heptathlon Natalya Shubenkova.
"When I started athletics, I was running sprints and long jumping,” Shubenkov recalls. "At 14 I jumped about 6 meters, and ran 200m indoors in 22.30. Actually I don't know what would be my 100m result now. I've never run this distance with electronic timing, but I think in good shape I could run in about 10.6.”
10.6 would be enough to qualify for the final of the Russian championships, but naturally Shubenkov is not interested. His first success came in 2009 when he became silver medallist at the European Junior Championships in Novi Sad. However, Shubenkov still considers that experience to be the biggest disappointment in his career.
"I had to win, I came to the Championships as a favourite and was feeling great,” Shubenkov says. "After the first half of the race I was leading. But then I felt like everything was over, I already imagined myself as a champion and relaxed. At this moment the guy from the UK surpassed me and won. After this, I always run till the finish line.”
Since 2010 Shubenkov started to compete with seniors. He was 3rd at the Russian Championships, in Saransk, but did not qualify to the European Championships in Barcelona. A year later, Sergey made a step forward. First he won the European U23 Champs in Ostrava, and then qualified to his first senior World Championships in Daegu.
“To be honest, I realised that in Daegu I had absolutely no chance to make it to the final,” Shubenkov admitted. “I was more like a tourist in the team. I happened to be in the same heat as the Olympic champion, Liu Xiang. When I went on the track, I saw that the whole stands opposite me were red because of Chinese flags. I was impressed, embarrassed, I was totally confused! I’ve never before experienced such pressure. In the end I ran 0.2 second slower than I actually could.”
The next season, 2012, Shubenkov managed to overcome this fear of full stands and big stadiums. In Helsinki Sergey won his first senior title of European champion and in the semi-finals set the new Russian record, 13.09.
“It was totally unexpected,” Shubenkov says. “I just wanted to perform my race technically well, and suddenly saw the figures of the national record. I was completely uptight in the finals, and it was extremely hard to pull myself together. But I remembered what happened back in 2009, in Novi Sad, and made myself run 100 per cent. The gold medal was my best prize for that.”
Thanks to this gold, Shubenkov got a bye from the national trials in Cheboksary. Instead, Sergey together with his coach Sergey Klevtsov could go to Barnaul and start training for the Olympics. Although the conditions in which Shubenkov trains deserve separate note.
“The new track on our stadium was meant for indoors, and so now the track is full of bubbles. We have also another stadium, but there the track is full of hummocks. Maybe it is ok for long distances, but with hurdles I feel them all very well. The indoor stadium has a very old track which has not been renewed for ages.”
“Still, I prefer to train in my home city than away on the training camp,” Shubenkov continues. “It is psychologically very hard to be away from family for such a long time. I think it makes no good when you spend half a year in camps.”
Being at home means for Shubenkov not only training and studying. Already for several years he has been taking guitar lessons. “I do not play guitar well, but I like it,” Shubenkov smiles. “I generally like rock music. Sorry that I do not have enough time to practice my guitar.”
110m Hurdles: 13.09 NR (2012)
60m Hurdles: 7.56i (2012)
60/110m Hurdles: 2010: 7.81/13.54; 2011: 7.87/13.46; 2012: 7.56/13.09
2009 1st (110m H, 99 cm) Russian Junior Championships (Saransk) 13.38 (+2.4)
2009 2nd (110m H, 99 cm) European Junior Championships (Novi Sad) 13.40 (13.35 sf)
2010 1st (60m H) Russian Indoor U23 Championships (Volgograd) 7.81
2010 4th (60m H) Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 7.81
2010 1st (110m H) Russian Team Championships (Sochi) 13.77
2010 3rd (110m H) Russian Championships (Saransk) 13.61 (+3.0)
2011 h (60m H) Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 7.90
2011 2nd (60m H) Russian Indoor U23 Championships (Volgograd) 7.87
2011 1st (110m H) Russian Team Championships (Sochi) 13.76
2011 2nd (110m H) Russian U23 Championships (Erino) 13.46
2011 1st (110m H) European U23 Championships (Ostrava) 13.56
2011 h (110m H) World Championships (Daegu) 13.70
2012 1st (60m H) Russian U23 Indoor Championships (Saransk) 7.56
2012 1st (110m H) Russian Team Championships (Sochi) 13.41
2012 1st (110m H) European Championships (Helsinki) 13.16 (13.09 sf)
Prepared by Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2012.