Tetyana Petlyuk winning the 800m at the 2006 Sparkassen Cup (Bongarts) © Copyright
Tetiana PETLYUK, Ukraine (800m)
Born 22 February 1982, Kiev
Coach Alexander Fadeev
Tetiana Petlyuk began in sport as a table tennis player at the age of seven but changed her focus to swimming one year later. At 12 she took up athletics after winning all her running competitions in boys’ races at school.
From 1994, Petlyuk was coached by Vasyl Karan and Anatoliy Fedorenko but she was frivolous and attended training only when she wanted to. But Petlyuk liked to compete and to win, and she had a great talent. So she came back to the stadium from time to time to take part in some competitions and would always triumph.
So, in 1994, Petlyuk’s parents and coaches decided to transfer her to the Sport College in Kiev. There, she joined the group of Anatoliy Varda and Alexander Kosovan (Sergiy Demidyuk’s coaches) and she specialised in the 400m and 400m Hurdles. In 1997, she won the 400m gold at the European Youth Olympics Days in Portugal (55.67).
In April 1999, Petlyuk took gold at the Ukrainian Youth Championships, in Odessa, with a PB 55.05. The next day, the coaches asked her to run 800m because of injury to one of the athletes in their team. She recorded a modest 2.15.0 but won by 10 metres. One month later, in Kiev, she tried the 800m again and improved to 2.07.32, booking her ticket to the World Youth Championships as a two-lap runner. In Bydgoszcz, Poland, she reached the Final but fell 150m from the finish. Yet she got up to place 2nd with a PB 2.06.97.
In 2000, Petlyuk was first choice in the Ukrainian team sent to the World Junior Championships, in Santiago, after running 2.04.74 in May. But she suffered flu two weeks prior to the competition and finished only sixth (2.07.26). “Still I have great memories from Chile,” she said. “It is a very interesting, uncommon and strange country. In Santiago, I made my first tattoo on the right shoulder as a reminder about my first visit to America. It was a little ornamental pattern design with a treble clef.”
In July 2001 Petlyuk graduated from the Sport College in Kiev and passed entrance examinations to Kiev’s National University of Sports and Physical Culture. With a new PB 2.03.07 at the National Championships, she gained her place in the Ukrainian team for the European Junior Championships, in Grosseto, Italy. “I was frivolous, like a little girl, and didn’t understand the importance and high level of this competition,” Petlyuk recalled. “I went on a big, long shopping trip three hours before the Final, but I was full of energy and ready for a quick race. I didn’t know why but the coach asked me to run a slower first lap to keep strength for the final kick. Consequently, I finished 3rd with 2.04.15.”
In September 2001, Petlyuk moved to Alexander Fadeev’s group. “I remember when my coach gave me new spikes with the words ‘Sergey Bubka asked me to give these spikes to a talented pupil. Take them.’ I was proud of myself and have kept these spikes until today,” she said.
During 2002 and 2003, Petlyuk paid great attention to developing a range of abilities, In 2002 she improved her PB to 2.02.41 and, in February 2003, she achieved the ‘A’ standard for the World Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, clocking 2.02.72 at the Russian Army Championships in Moscow. “In Birmingham I was really shocked because I ran in the same heat with World indoor record holder (Jolanda) Ceplak,” Petlyuk laughed. “Moreover, she was, she is, and she will be, my idol in athletics. I didn’t think about my race because I was thinking how I could make a picture together with Ceplak and take her autograph.”
In February 2004 Petlyuk improved her indoor record to 2.01.14 and took bronze at the Indoor European Cup in Leipzig. She went to the World Indoor Championships, in Budapest, but was injured after the first round (2.01.90). She could not make the Final, finishing 4th in her Semi-Final (2.05.10). She had ‘strangulation of sacral nerves’ and recovered in July only after a long course of Eastern acupuncture.
At the National Championships in Yalta, Petlyuk ran under two minutes for the first time: 1.59.62 in her heat and 1.59.92 in the Final for victory, booking her ticket for the Athens Olympics. In Athens she was in great shape and reached the Semi-Finals easily. But, in the Semis, she didn’t dare to follow the race leaders. She produced a fast finishing kick but finished only 3rd with PB 1.59.48. It was not enough to make the Final.
In September 2004 Petlyuk’s life changed. Her coach accepted an invitation from the Moscow football team ‘Khimki’ and she decided to go with him. “I was coaching myself mainly because my trainer was busy all day,” she said. “Moreover, I trained on the grass. The indoor athletics arena and stadium were too far from the football camp. I took a taxi from time to time but it was too expensive (nearly $100) and a long way (2 hour drive from camp to stadium). What is more, I lived in the same flat with my coach because I had no money to rent another apartment. That is why I could not hope for high results in 2005.”
In the winter of 2006 Petlyuk’s coach moved to train Krasnodar’s football team and again she followed. “In Krasnodar we have the best conditions for training,” Petlyuk said. “Kind people, warm relationship inside the football team, the stadium was near our home and, most important, I had the possibility to go to the training camp with my coach. I was satisfied with my preparation but, on the eve of the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, I skidded on the ice, fell and tore my thigh slightly.” Nevertheless, Petlyuk started in Moscow but could not reach the Final.
In the summer season of 2006, Petlyuk began with a 1.57.34 PB on 15 June in Kiev. Two weeks later she went to the European Cup, in Malaga, as favourite but fell in a bunched field on the last curve. She was hospitalised with multiple scratches and serious skin damage. Luckily there were no muscle injuries and Petlyuk continued her preparation for the European Championships, in Göteborg.
In Göteborg, Petlyuk qualified through her heat and Semi-Final easily but, in the Final, she was afraid of another fall and the spontaneous kick of her rivals, so she ran in the second and third lanes. She finished only 4th with 1.58.65. Later, a Russian scientific group made a detailed investigation of this race and ascertained that Petlyuk had run 817 metres but she lost to European champion, Olga Kotlyarova, by only a few metres.
In the winter of 2007 Petlyuk was in great shape but she caught an unknown virus at a training camp in Turkey. She had a fever near 40 degrees during one week. Nevertheless, she decided to participate in her favourite event in Stuttgart. On 8 February, she won this competition and set a personal indoor record (1.58.67). She was ready to fight for gold at the European Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, but ‘slept’ at the final kick from Russian Oksana Zbrozhek. Petlyuk clocked 1.59.84 to place 2nd.
In the spring preparation period, Petlyuk felt intense pain in her thigh. Treatment, therapeutic massages and physiotherapy didn’t succeed. So she could not recover her health before the World Championships, in Osaka, and didn’t make the Final. In the autumn she went into hospital for a check-up and doctors diagnosed the cause of her injury. Sharp pain was induced by intervertebral hernia. This was the consequence of her fall at 2006 European Cup in Malaga.
After rehabilitation, Petlyuk began preparation for the 2008 Olympic season. Before the World Indoor Championships, in Valencia, she said: “I have a dream for my career. I want to finish ahead Maria Mutola. I’m sure, if I beat Mutola, I’ll win the World Championships.” Her dream became partial reality in the Valencia Final. She finished ahead of Mutola but lost to Australian Tamsyn Lewis to take the silver medal with 2.02.66.
On 3 July 2008 Petlyuk won the National Championships with a season’s best 1.58.38 to book her ticket for Beijing. One week later she graduated from the National University of Sports and Physical Culture as Master of sport psychology.
“I was in the greatest shape before Beijing” Tetiana says. “But I made one big mistake two days before my Olympic start. I’m a big lover of different exotic national food, so I decided to go to one of Beijing’s restaurants out of the Olympic village to taste some special Chinese meals. Next day our team doctor made the conclusion that I had food poisoning. I was indisposed, felt giddy and had intractable vomiting. I felt wasted before my first Olympic round.”
However, Petlyuk finished 2nd in her heat, clocked 2:00.00 and was ready to fight to go to the Olympic Final in spite of having critical blood pressure before her second race, 110/95. A little incident on the last curve in the Semi-Final broke down her dreams. “I suffered an unpremeditated kick to my heel, my rhythm was upset and I felt at the moment a great heaviness in my legs. I finished 4th in my Olympic Semi-Final with 1:59.27. It was not bad given on my health conditions, but not enough to go to the Final.”
After the Olympics Petlyuk was ready to go to the Golden League events to redeem herself but she had to refuse these invitations. “I received a call from Kiev’s City Hall with an invitation to the mayor’s party” Tetiana recalls. “They said that my participation was obligatory, because the mayor of Kiev had to give me keys for a new apartment in the Ukrainian capital. But finally I got just a commendation for my high results in athletics. I felt defrauded.”
Petlyuk didn’t make special preparation for the winter season 2009 but after few high level performances in Dusseldorf (600m – 1.26.87 PB) and Karlsruhe (800m – 1:59.63) she decided to go to the European Indoor Championships in Torino. She easily won her heat and Semi-Final in slow tactical races and got the first lane in the Final. “I decided to make a very quick start to avoid crowding and falling, but I was wrong. I had been running with incorrect tactics and at last finished just 6th with 2:03.77”
During the spring preparation season 2009, Petlyuk changed her usual training methodology, paying much more attention to muscle endurance. “I need more time to develop my speed” Petlyuk sums up. “Although my main Ukrainian rivals didn’t participate in the Ukrainian National Championships I was glad to win both 800 (1:59.30 SB) and 1500m (4: 06.51 PB) women’s Finals. I know that I can improve my results in Berlin a lot. But we’ll see how much…”
Petlyuk collects ornamental saucers, plates, forks and spoons from all the countries and towns she visited. Her collection numbers more then 100. She has a favorite item – a little soft mouse, presented to her by her boyfriend at Valentine’s Day. She holds it in her hand when she goes to sleep every evening. Moreover, she uses different soft toys instead of pillows.
800m: 1.57.34 (2006)
800m: 1999: 2.06.97; 2000: 2.04.74; 2001: 2.03.07; 2002: 2.02.41; 2003: 2.02.45; 2004: 1.59.48; 2005: 2.01.78; 2006: 1.57.34; 2007: 1.59.85; 2008: 1.58.38; 2009: 1:59.30
1997 1st European Youth Olympic Days (400m)
1999 2nd World Youth Championships
2000 6th World Junior Championships
2001 3rd European Junior Championships
2003 h World Indoor Championships
2003 7th European U23 Championships
2004 3rd European Indoor Cup
2004 SF World Indoor Championships
2004 SF Olympic Games
2005 SF European Indoor Championships
2005 SF World Championships
2006 SF World Indoor Championships
2006 4th European Championships
2006 6th World Athletics Final
2007 2nd European Indoor Championships
2007 SF World Championships
2008 2nd World Indoor Championships
2008 SF Olympic games
2009 6th European Indoor Championships
Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 200-2009.