Yelizaveta BRYZHINA, Ukraine (200m)
Born 28 November 1989, Lugansk
Coach: Volodymyr Fedorets
“Can you image that I could choose another sport if I’m the daughter of two Olympic champions in athletics?” began her story Liza (short name from Yelizaveta). Her mother Olga Bryzgina–Vladykina is three-time Olympic Champion (1988 - 400m, 4x400; 1992 – 4x400) as well as owner of Olympic silver 1992 and gold medal from World Championships 1987. She is the Ukrainian record holder with 48.27sec at 400m. Yelizaveta’s father, Viktor Bryzgin, is the Olympic champion from Seoul in the 4x100m relay.
Liza began her sport career at the age of 6 years from gymnastics and ball-room dancing. But all these trainings were not enough to fulfill her potential and living energy. She was a very active girl who loved to win in each competition, even if it was just a children’s game.
“In school I was the quickest pupil among all girls and boys of my age and elder schoolchildren,” Yelizaveta recalls. “I had been winning all school athletics events from 30m to 500m as well as long and high jumps. My mother often took me to the stadium where I could see real training of athletes and different competitions. To be honest, I felt great excitement but thought that athletics is just a cheerful game.”
At the age of 10 Liza joined the real athletics group coached by Lyudmila Polovneva. Despite just playing in training, Bryzgina was winning Ukrainian Championships among her peers every year. When she was 13 years old, the coach of her parents, Volodymyr Fedorets, visited their home. He was often a guest in the Bryzhin’s house, but that time he came to ask Liza’s mother to let Liza go to the High Sport College in Kyiv. So, in September 2003, junior Bryzhina moved to the capital of Ukraine to train in Fedorets’ group.
“We hadn’t a big workload,” Yelizaveta says. «Moreover, even now we used maybe 60% of workloads done by other athletes. My coach says that we have not to be in a hurry with workloads because athletics is a sport of mature people. I’m supporting his methods and going to the every training with itch for a new job.”
The teamwork of Fedorets and Yelizaveta Bryzhina began from the 100m distance. On 27 May 2005, Liza won the Kiev Open Championships clocking 11.75 on 100m, achieving the Master of Sport standard (Ukrainian classification) and went to her first International Meeting in Lignano. “At the European Youth Olympic Festival I was very skinny in comparison with all my rivals. Somebody asked me “what are you doing here?” Liza recollects with a smile. “Nobody could recognise an athlete in me, but I looked forward to take a victory only. Finally I won all rounds on 100m event including the final with a 11.60 windy.”
Summer 2006 was not so good in her career. At the age of 16 she won the National Winter Youth Championships at 60m but a summer season was terrible. Dreaming to win the World Gymnasiade, Liza failed from the competitions after the heats at 100 and 200m distances. That failure set her thinking about athletics more deeply and next season she was great.
On 19 June 2007, Bryzhina won Kiev’s Championships, setting her current PB on 100m 11.44sec. But she understood clearly that her real distance is 200m and asked her coach to try running this distance during all the season. At the beginning of June Bryzhina finished third at the Senior National Championships, clocked 23.60 and decided to perform on this distance at the European Junior Championships, in Hengelo.
“That year I didn’t go through the national selection at the Junior Championships in Nikolayev because of the school-leaving party. But I finished just the school programme and stayed in Kiev’s Sport College for 2 year more to continue my education as a young specialist in athletics. After these pleasant events, I went to the European Junior Championships to achieve 2nd place with new PB 23.47 at 200m.” Then in the 4x100 relay Bryzhina ran the final leg to help Ukrainian team finish second with new a National Junior record of 44.77sec.
Yelizaveta cherished hopes, for summer season 2008, to go to the Beijing Olympics because of fast times and a new PB 23.37 at the Kiev Championships but she finished fifth at the National Championships at 100m and was injured before the 200m final. “I got my first problem with Achilles,” Bryzhina recalls. “The head-coach of our team wanted to give me the chance to go to Beijing Olympics as a reserve in the 4x100m relay, but we didn’t want to force my condition. As a result, I took a place only in the Ukrainian team to the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, but there was not in time to recover after the injury. In Poland I didn’t go through the first round at both sprint distances, clocking 12.21 and 24.31 respectively.”
Bryzhina devoted the winter season to 60m, setting a 7.37 PB at the National Indoor Championships in Sumy and booking her ticket to the European Indoor Championships, but in Torino Yelizaveta finished sixth in her heat clocking 7.63 only. “I was not upset,” Liza says. “I know that I have not a good start and 60m is not my distance. I can’t achieve my maximum speed even at 100m, that is why I usual have a second part of 200m distance more quick and expressive.”
Bryzhina opened the summer season 2009 at the beginning of June, at the National Cup in Yalta, where she raced for the first time in her career under 23sec, setting her PB 22.99 after which she went to the first European Team Championships. In Leiria, Yelizaveta got injured during first day of competitions, running the last stage of 4x100 relay and couldn’t take the start at 200m distance.
«After that we decided to withdraw from performing at the European U23 Championships and tried to focus on preparation for the World Championships in Berlin,” Liza explained. “But the injury was deeper that we thought. In any case, I recovered at the beginning of August and was in very good shape, but our team’s managers feared to include me in the team list to Berlin. It was my biggest disappointment of the season. I was ready to set my personal best and hoped to reach the final in Germany, but I had to stay at home and finish the season.”
She began her preparation for the summer season 2010 on the first days of March in the highlands in Kislovodsk. They made very good and strong basic training which subsequently will become the main basis of her summer success. Bryzhina began the summer season with a PB and victory at the National Cup in Yalta on May 28 and three weeks later improved her record to 21.71 in winning the European Team Championships in Bergen and booked her place in the national team for the European Championships in Barcelona.
“After victory in Bergen I became more assured of my power and have understood that I will be able to fight not for Barcelona’s podium only, but for the highest stage as well. Moreover I set many personal records in different tests at training camp before departing to Spain,” Liza says. “I refused a few invitations to Diamond League events. It was not easy for me especially when I was invited by the organisers from Paris. It is the town of my dreams, but I had to change this trip for a very hard job in the training camp near Kiev.”
At the European Championships, in Barcelona, Bryzhina achieved the final easily. She knew her shape was great and was sure to take a medal, but in spite of everything she was nervous and thought a lot about her rivals. Anxiety disappeared only when she was standing on the track before the final. After the race, where she finished second with new PB and National U23 record in 22.44, Liza was satisfied with the result and disappointed with the silver medal. She couldn’t image that such a high result would not be enough for victory.
It is interesting to know that in the European Championships final, Yelizaveta repeated the PB of her mother at 200m distance and like her mother at the Olympics 1992 she finished second on the Barcelona track. “For full coincidence I had to win the gold in relay event,” Bryzhina added. “I remembered that my mother finished first in the final stage of 4x400m relay 18 years ago on this stadium and I felt the urge to repeat her medal achievement in the Catalan capital.”
Nobody could image that the Ukrainian team in the women’s 4x100 relay would be able to take ‘gold’ in Barcelona. Liza was the one person believing in this goal. “I cannot explain what I felt during my race on the last stage of the relay. When I overtook Christine Arron, I was sure that I could do everything I wanted on the track. I didn’t see my rivals, but I felt they were not able to get me in that race because I was full of energy and could improve my speed in every moment. I didn’t run but flew my stage. When I saw our result I was surprised much more than with our victory. 42.29sec is a new National record and 2010 World Lead.”
After her amazing performance at the European Championships, Bryzhina took a little break in the competition schedule and took part only in the Diamond League events in London and Brussels and in the IAAF World Challenge event in Villeneuve d’Ascq. “I’m proud to be part of the European team at the Continental Cup in Split,” Liza says. “Certainly my shape is not as good as in Barcelona, but I am ready to struggle for medals. When I am infused by something I can perform miracles.”
From 2009, Bryzhina is a student of Lugansk National teachers' training institute. She has a big collection of Teddy bears. Her boyfriend is international class long jumper Dmytro Bilotserkivkyi (8.04m PB)
100m: 11.44 (2007)
200m: 22.44 (2010)
200m: 2004: 24.13; 2005: 24.32; 2006: 24.24; 2007: 23.47; 2008: 23.37; 2009: 22.99; 2010: 22.44
2005 1st European Youth Olympic Festival (100m)
2006 4th Gymnasiade (100m)
2007 2nd European Junior Championships
2008 4h3 World Junior Championships (100m)
2008 5h5 World Junior Championships (200m)
2009 6h3 European Indoor Championships (60m)
2009 dnf European Team Championships
2010 1st European Team Championships
2010 2nd European Championships (200m)
2010 1st European Championships (4x100m)
Prepared by Liudmyla Iakusheva for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2010.