Updated 11 July 2012
Yevgeniya KOLODKO, Russia (Shot Put)
Born: 22 July 1990, Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk region
Lives: Yakutsk, Yakutiya
Coach: Nikolay Kolodko
Kolodko comes from Yakutiya, which is one of the most eastern Russian regions. The land where winter temperatures reach -60 degrees Celsius is famous first of all because of its diamonds production. Kolodko, same as many girls, loves diamonds – and dreams that some day Yakutiya will be known also thanks to her sports achievements.
Yevgeniya started her sports career quite unusually for a future shot putter. At 15 she became the World Youth champion in power lifting. Her father, Nikolay Kolodko, used to be the strongest man in the republic and even has the nickname “Yakut Schwarzenegger.” Inspired by his achievements, Kolodko was extremely fond of lifting weights and ignored all the doubts.
“People often asked me: are you crazy to lift weights at such a young age, you won’t be able to have children!” Kolodko recalls. “But after all, it would be crazy if all girls did only dancing or gymnastics. I was not born for it, I am too strong, and I love my sport.”
Kolodko could actually have repeated her father’s career – in spite of his extreme physical strength, Nikolay never did Olympic sport on a professional level. But with Yevgeniya it went in a different way.
“When I was 15, we had family council at a kitchen table,” Yevgeniya recalls. “My father asked me to choose: either I stay at home and continue with power lifting, or I start shot put and move to the sports school in St Petersburg. I even did not need time to think it over. Of course, I wanted to try Olympic sport, and to live in a different city, experience something new.”
Her new life in St Petersburg was not easy. Coach Zoya Matveyeva had a hard time trying to teach Kolodko shot put technique. At an age when most athletes already start competing, Kolodko had to master the basic movements of the shot put.
“It was hard because I never did athletics before,” Yevgeniya says. “At school, I used to be the fastest in my class and that’s why our PC teacher loved me. But when I first ran 300m at about 7 years of age I promised to myself and the teacher that I would never do athletics! Like I usually say, never say never.”
Actually Kolodko was not even sure which event she would like to specialise in. It obviously had to be one of the throws, but which one?
“But once my coach saw me, she said: only shot put,” Kolodko smiles. “And then the months of hard work started. It was a nightmare – both for me and my coach. She said that it was a natural movement that anyone can do. But for me it was not natural, I could not even understand what she wanted from me. We argued a lot, my progress slowed down. She even said that it would be easier if I was not that strong. But finally I found my right movement. And now I cannot imagine how I could ever throw in a different way.”
After Kolodko finished 9th at the European Junior Championships 2009, she moved to Moscow, to her new coaches Svetlana Pestretsova and Dmitry Zapolskiy. Another new life in a new city could be too much for any 18-year-old, but not for Yevgeniya.
“At 5 years of age my parents already sent me to the bakery,” Kolodko laughs. “At 14 I travelled alone from Yakutiya to Russian Champs in power lifting. So it was not a problem to live alone in a big city. Of course I missed my parents, but I knew how to take care of myself.”
The start of Kolodko’s professional career as a shot putter was not quite promising. After 2010, when the progress was minimal, Kolodko decided to change her life all over again. This time she decided to refuse any coaches and work with her father, who used to do shot put only on amateur level. What makes this decision sound even more absurd is that Nikolay Kolodko at the time was a deputy sports minister in Yakutiya. So he had to leave the government position and become a full time personal coach.
“My father’s motto is, “lift more, throw farther,” Kolodko laughs. “Seriously, I feel much more comfortable with my father than with any of my coaches, although I am very grateful to all three of them. They gave me the technical base which allows me now to throw far. I think the key is that my father believes in me, without any doubts. And I feel responsible for him, maybe that’s why I improved my results right after he left for me his position in the ministry.”
Kolodko’s progress in 2011 was actually amazing. First in Ostrava she became the first European U23 Champion in the history of Yakutia. Then, also for the first time in her career, managed to win the senior Russian trials and qualify for the World Championships. In Daegu, Kolodko was at her best – she improved her PB to 19.78m and finished 5th.
“My result was about half a metre better than my previous PB, but I was not that happy,” Kolodko says. “I really wanted to win a medal. I knew it would be very hard, but I am not that kind of person who can be happy with the 5th place.”
After teaming up with her father, Kolodko returned to live in Yakutsk, although she still spends much time in Moscow. “I am used to live in planes, 7 hours flight from Moscow to Yakutsk feels quite ok,” Kolodko explains. “This season I came to the Russian champs in Cheboksary on Monday, and already on Wednesday could throw over 20 m. It is much more difficult when I have to fly home, then it takes about week to get rid of the jet lag.”
Kolodko opened the 2012 outdoor season with another PB – 20.22m at the Russian Team Championships in Adler. This was her first throw over 20m.
“You know, at Soviet times there could be 10 athletes in the country with over-20m throws, so I am a little bit ashamed to celebrate this,” Kolodko smiles. “But mentally it became much easier for me. I felt like I was on a different level now.”
On her new level, Kolodko will have to compete in London with two hot favorites – season leader Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk and Valerie Adams from New Zealand. And although the young Russian admits that at the moment it will be hard to oppose them, she still believes her time to be on the top of the podium will come soon.
“We are a little bit acquainted with Ostapchuk because we share the same manager,” Kolodko explains. “But generally I don’t like to create idols, I want to be myself. Not long ago I heard an expert on the Russian TV who said that I had some elements of the German technique of throwing. It’s funny, I can hardly imagine how “the German technique” actually looks like, but it is nice to hear that I show it,” Kolodko laughs.
2007: 14.26; 2008: 14.87/15.04i; 2009: 15.38; 2010: 16.73; 2011: 19.78; 2012: 20.22
2008 2nd Russian Junior Championships (Cheboksary) 14.87
2009 9th European Junior Championships (Novi Sad) 14.50
2010 2nd Russian U23 Championships (Cheboksary) 16.15
2011 4th Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 17.31
2011 1st Russian Indoor U23 Championships (Volgograd) 18.01
2011 2nd European Winter Throwing Cup (Sofia) 17.85
2011 1st European U23 Championships (Ostrava) 18.87
2011 1st Russian Championships (Cheboksary) 19.33
2011 5th World Championships (Daegu) 19.78
2012 1st Russian Indoor Championships (Moscow) 19.46
2012 7th World Indoor Championships (Istanbul) 18.57
2012 1st Russian Team Championships (Adler) 20.22
2012 1st Russian Championships (Cheboksary) 20.15
Prepared by Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2012.