Updated 24 February 2008
Yaroslav RYBAKOV, Russia (High Jump)
Born: 22 November 1980, Mogilev (Belarus)
Height: 1.98m; Weight: 84kg
Coach: Vladimir Rybakov
Yaroslav Rybakov was born into a sporting family. His father, Vladimir, was a high jumper (2.07) and was trained by Vladimir Djachkov, who reared the 1964 Olympic champion Valery Brumel. Now Yaroslav trains under the direction of his father. His mother, Ljudmila Luschenkova, was a champion of former USSR republic, Belarus, in heptathlon.
In his childhood, therefore, Rybakov spent much time at training and competition with his parents. And, when he was 10 years old, his father started to train him. Four years later their family moved to Yaroslavl, closer to Moscow, to better living conditions.
Talented at jumping, running and throwing, at 18 Rybakov demonstrated potential as a decathlete. His performances included: 100m, 10.6; 110m hurdles, 14.0; 400m indoors, 48.00; long jump, 7.50m; pole vault, 4.70m; shot put 15m. It is this basis that helps him to achieve top results in his specialty – high jumping. “The height casts a spell over me,” Rybakov says.
At 14 he jumped 1.80, at 15 1.95, at 16 2.09 (2.10i) and at 17 2.20. He was Russian champion in every age group. When he was 17, Rybakov participated in the 1998 World Junior Championships, in Annecy, France, placing fifth (2.18). Three years later, at the senior 2001 World Championships, in Edmonton, he gained the silver medal with a personal best 2.33. That year he moved from 40th on World List to third and was the only athlete that season to clear 2.30 or higher on 11 occasions.
In 2002 Rybakov became European champion (2.31), in Munich, and celebrated the glory at the World Cup in Madrid with the same height. But the next three years were all silver for him as he took second place at three World Championships (2003 and 2004 World Indoors, 2005 outdoor World Championships). Even in raising his personal best to 2.38 at the 2005 European Indoor Championships, he had to settle for runner-up place behind Sweden’s Stefan Holm (2.40).
Rybakov managed, however, to change the situation fundamentally in his favour during the winter of 2006. At the World Indoor Championships, in Moscow, he was urged on not by just his friends and relatives but also by a multitude of supporters. To the delight of his father, mother and sister Alesya, he rose to the occasion, clearing 2.37 for victory over Holm, denying the Swede a fourth successive World Indoor title and reversing the first and second places of the previous two World Indoor Championships.
After that victory the family moved to Moscow and Rybakov started to train hard again, concentrating on preparing for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. Unfortunately for him, he slipped back to second again, losing out to Donald Thomas, of Bahamas, after a thrilling competition in which the top three each recorded 2.35.
The medal was won despite several injuries and, in October 2007, Rybakov underwent knee surgery and it took him three weeks to recover. It was very painful even to walk. He started training only at the end of November and wasn’t sure if he could compete in the 2008 winter season. However, at the beginning of February, in the Russian Indoor Championships, he equalled his personal best of 2.38 and now he is dreaming of making 2.40.
2.38i (2005, 2008)
1996 - 1.95; 1997 - 2.10i/2.09; 1998 - 2.20; 1999 - 2.19i/2.18; 2000 - 2.28;
2001 - 2.33i/2.33; 2002 - 2.31i/2.31; 2003 - 2.34i/2.34; 2004 - 2.32i/2.32;
2005 - 2.38i/2.33; 2006 - 2.37i/2.33; 2007 - 2.38i/2.35; 2008 - 2.38i
1997 1 Russian Indoor U18 Championships 2.10
1 Russian U18 Championships 2.08
1998 5 World Junior Championships 2.18
1999 1 Russian U20 Championships 2.18
3 European U20 Championships 2.16
2000 1 Russian U23 Championships 2.25
3 Russian Championships 2.28
2001 2 Russian Indoor Championships 2.28
1 European Cup 2.28
2 Russian Championships 2.31
2 World Championships 2.33
2002 3 European Indoor Championships 2.30
2 European Cup 2.28
1 Russian Championships 2.28
1 European Championships 2.31
2 World Athletics Final 2.28
1 World Cup 2.31
2003 2 World Indoor Championships 2.33
1 European Cup 2.34
1 Russian Championships 2.28
2003 1 World Athletics Final 2.30
2004 1 Russian Indoor Championships 2.30
2 World Indoor Championships 2.32
1 Russian Championships 2.30
6 Olympic Games 2.32
2 World Athletics Final 2.30
2005 2 European Indoor Championships 2.38
2 World Championships 2.29
3 World Athletics Final 2.32
2006 1 World Indoor Championships 2.37
3 World Athletics Final 2.29
2007 1 Russian Championships 2.30
2 World Championships 2.35
6 World Athletics Final 2.27
2008 1 Russian Indoor Championships 2.38
Prepared by Larisa Voloshina, Sergey Tikhonov & Marina Voloshina for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008