15 JUL 2004 General News Grosseto

Superman Krauchanka takes Decathlon gold

Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus competing in the Javelin discipline in the men's Decathlon (Getty Images)Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus competing in the Javelin discipline in the men's Decathlon (Getty Images) © Copyright

Belarus’ Andrei Krauchanka set a fabulous Championships and national Junior record of 8126 points to clinch the Decathlon World Junior title on day three of competition here in Grosseto.

After two days of brave efforts on the blue Italian track, the tall 18-year-old from Gomel bettered 8 personal bests to become the second best decathlete in the all-time World junior lists, 271 points off the 20 years old World Junior record of Torsten Voss.

After an opening 11.09 in the 100m - just 2 hundredths of a second off his best time - Krauchanka improved to 7.46m in the Long Jump and 14.51m in the Shot Put. A massive 2.16 metres propelled him in the lead in the overall standing after the High Jump, a position he would no longer lose.

“Andrei’s exceptional performances in the jumps were decisive,” said the Belarussian team leader. "We expected him to improve in the Long and the High Jump but we certainly did not expect him to go so high!”

Second behind Uruguay’s Andres Silva in last year’s Octathlon at the World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada, Krauchanka set the record straight here in Italy as he left the South American a distant fifth with 7542 points, a new Area record.

This year Krauchanka was more in competition with Russia’s Aleksey Sysoyev whose 57.44m throw in the Javelin saw him come as close as 37 points coming into the final event of the Decathlon.

But Krauchanka is a real competitor and with a new personal best time of 4:28.46 in the 1500m he left the Russian almost ten seconds behind.

The fantastic battle saw both representatives of former Soviet Union nations with overall best scores with Sysoyev’s total of 8047 points becoming the new junior record for Russia.

Third overall, Germany’s Norman Müller – whose father is from Mozambique – also set a national junior record with 7942 points as did Pelle Rietveld of the Netherlands in fourth.

This fantastic competition crowned a true champion whom the Belarussian officials already see as the next big multi-event star.

“Andrei was born to be a decathlete. It’s only his third year in the sport and only his third decathlon but he’s such a natural talent that his record does not surprise me,” explained the national team leader.

“He’s the superman of Decathlon!”

Coached by the father of Eduard Hamalainen and Ivan Gordienko, Krauchanka still has plenty of room for improvement not only because he is still only 18 but also because he’s hardly had any coaching in technical events like the Pole Vault.

“Andrei is a very good technician in the hurdles and obviously the jumps. But in the Pole Vault he’s only just starting to learn. Give him another year or so and he’ll clear 5 metres.”

A Physical education student, Krauchanka was recruited while at school four years ago. Following his amazingly quick progress he decided to leave his parents and move from his home town to Gomel, the third biggest city in Belarus, in order to benefit from the best coaches and best facilities for his athletics development.

The youngest of two brothers, Andrei is the only member of the Krauchanka family who took up the sport. His older brother being a very good businessman – so he says! – there might be a Krauchanka brother partnership if Andrei stays on the right track which could well lead him to the top of the World lists.

In comparison, World record holder Roman Sebrle had a best score of 6541 points at 18 while three-time World champion Tomas Dvorak had a pb of 7138 points at the same age!

Athletics is gaining in popularity in Belarus and year after year thousands of young kids take up the sport in a country which compared to its European neighbours is not quite wealthy.

Krauchanka knows athletics could be his passport for sporting glory and fame but he is also very aware that track and field is a means towards a better life.

Meeting people, travelling, having fun are all at the top of his list of favourite hobbies and hadn’t it been for athletics Krauchanka probably wouldn’t have travelled so many countries and met so many people so young.

The Decathlon being one of the friendliest disciplines in track and field one can be sure that not only will Krauchanka become a fantastic athlete but also that he will make great friends in the course of the years and one day he will probably look back to the group picture he took with his small personal camera after the competition and think back to when he won his first World title in Grosseto.