Natalya Antyukh

Athlete Profile

    Russia Russia
    26 JUN 1981
Natalya Antyukh (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 22.73 +0.6 Yerino 20 JUL 2012
400 Metres 49.85 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 31 JUL 2004
400 Metres Hurdles 52.70 London (Olympic Stadium) 08 AUG 2012

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 23.56 Volgograd (Infizkult Manezh Stadium) 11 FEB 2005
300 Metres 36.79 Moskva 12 JAN 2006
400 Metres 50.37 Moskva 18 FEB 2006

Progression - Outdoor

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2012 22.73 +0.6 Yerino 20 JUL
2010 23.03 -0.7 Sochi 28 MAY
2009 23.17 -1.0 Cheboksary 25 JUL
2008 23.02 +0.6 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 06 JUL
2006 23.27 -0.2 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 16 JUL
2005 22.99 0.0 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 24 JUL
2004 22.75 -0.2 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 06 JUN

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2012 51.27 Zürich (Letzigrund) 30 AUG
2011 50.73 Moskva 06 AUG
2009 50.90 Cheboksary 23 JUL
2008 51.19 Kazan 17 JUL
2007 49.93 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 27 AUG
2006 50.47 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 13 JUN
2005 50.67 Firenze (Stadio Ridolfi) 18 JUN
2004 49.85 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 31 JUL
2003 52.28 Praha (Stadion Juliska) 29 JUN
2002 51.24 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 09 JUN
2001 51.19 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 09 JUN

400 Metres Hurdles

Performance Place Date
2016 57.97 Cheboksary (Olimpiyskiy) 21 JUN
2015 55.92 Cheboksary (Olimpiyskiy) 03 AUG
2014 58.06 Oslo (Bislett) 11 JUN
2013 55.20 Moskva (Luzhniki) 22 JUL
2012 52.70 London (Olympic Stadium) 08 AUG
2011 53.75 Cheboksary 23 JUL
2010 52.92 Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 30 JUL
2009 54.11 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 20 AUG
2000 58.30 Cheboksary 09 JUL

Progression - Indoor

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2005 23.56 Volgograd (Infizkult Manezh Stadium) 11 FEB
2002 23.57 Sankt-Peterburg 06 JAN
2001 24.07 Moskva 20 JAN

300 Metres

Performance Place Date
2006 36.79 Moskva 12 JAN
2003 37.35 Ekaterinburg 07 JAN

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2009 52.37 Torino (Oval Lingotto) 07 MAR
2008 52.78 Moskva 08 FEB
2007 52.27 Moskva 28 JAN
2006 50.37 Moskva 18 FEB
2005 52.83 Chemnitz 25 FEB
2004 50.87 Moskva 18 FEB
2003 51.73 Moskva 26 FEB
2002 51.17 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 17 FEB
2001 52.37 Moskva 19 JAN

Honours - 400 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 50.33 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 29 AUG 2007
3rd IAAF World Athletics Final 8 51.90 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 10 SEP 2005
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 3sf1 50.99 Helsinki (Olympic Stadium) 08 AUG 2005
2nd IAAF World Athletics Final 5 50.95 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 19 SEP 2004
28th Olympic Games 3 49.89 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 24 AUG 2004
8th IAAF World Championships 7h5 52.71 Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium) 05 AUG 2001

Honours - 400 Metres Hurdles

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
14th IAAF World Championships 6sf2 55.55 Moskva (Luzhniki) 13 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 1 52.70 London (Olympic Stadium) 08 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 3 53.85 Daegu (DS) 01 SEP 2011
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 4 55.19 Split (Poljud Stadion) 04 SEP 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 54.11 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 20 AUG 2009

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Updated 20 July 2012

Natalya ANTYUKH, Russia (400 m Hurdles)

Born 26 June 1981, Saint Petersburg

Lives: Saint Petersburg

1.82m / 70 kg

Coach: Ekaterina Kulikova


To find your best event can be a matter of 10 years of your career. But in the case of World and Olympic bronze medallist Natalya Antyukh, a new event that brought her a lot of international honours in her late twenties, as well as the status of favourite for the London Olympics, was “well forgotten, old.”

Not all athletics followers may remember, but Natalya Antyukh started her career as a 400m hurdles runner. In 1998, 17-year-old Antyukh even won the Moscow World Youth Games (the event that twelve years later turned into the Youth Olympics) in this discipline. And she was the Russian Junior Champion in hurdles in 2000. But the very next year, running habitual indoor 400m in the winter, she demonstrated impressive progress, making it to the final of the National Indoor Championships. Her coach Yuriy Anisimov insisted that Natalya should stick with the flat 400m for the outdoor competitions as well. In the first outing of her outdoor season, Antyukh dipped under 52 seconds and was chosen as the third member of the national team for the World Championships in Edmonton. Even though she didn’t make it past the first round, she was sure that she would stick with flat 400 metres for good.

Next two seasons brought her numerous relay honours and the win at the 2002 Vienna European indoor Championships. But the real breakthrough year for Antyukh was 2004. At that time she was already working with her current coach Ekaterina Kulikova, but still running hurdles only for training purposes. Anyway Natalya didn’t seem to regret it too much. In July she won the silver at the National Olympic Trials with her first ever under-50 result (49.85) and became an Olympian.

The Olympics were like a fairy tale for the Russian. Firstly, she won her heat in the first round. Then she finished second in the fastest semi-final with the third time of the round. But still she wasn’t considered as the favourite, lining up against the Russian champion Natalya Nazarova, experienced Ana Guevara and Tonique Williams-Darling and young and ambitious Sanya Richards. But she made an impossible happen, moving from the sixth position to the third in the last 40 meters. “The  semi-final race was the hardest for me. I was really afraid that it would be my last run in Athens. When I finished in second place, I got the weight lifted from my shoulders. And the final was like I dream, I even don’t remember what was happening in the race, I just recall how I couldn’t believe I’d just won a medal until I saw the results on the screen,” Antyukh said.

The next years turned out to be gruelling for Natalya. After winning individual bronze and relay silver in Athens she was extremely motivated to be competing again. So she started to race much more often than before, simply wearing out her body. And to make matters worse she lost her mother. This loss left her shocked and emotionally drained. She kept working hard, winning national medals and being a part of the successful 4x400 relay team, but didn’t see any personal progress. “At one point right in the middle of the season I came to my coach and said that I needed a break and that either I was leaving for a vacation immediately or I’d quit. She was very surprised, but couldn’t do anything about it. So I left for Singapore with my friend, swimmer Igor Marchenko, to relax and distract myself a bit,” Antyukh said.

That much needed rest helped her to get her motivation back right before the Olympic year of 2008, but bad luck at the National Trials – she slipped and fell in the final – left her out of the team. “I didn’t even watch the Olympics that year. I believe that during the 400 m final I was walking along the streets of Paris. But I didn’t consider quitting sports. This kind of thoughts always come up after bad races, but I can get over them pretty quickly,” Antyukh explained.

The following year, at one of the training sessions, Natalya decided to try to run the 400m hurdles, just out of curiosity, but it turned out that her body still remembered how to run this event. So she decided to make another experiment – to compete in a hurdles race. Just a couple of weeks before the 2009 World Championships, at the Russian Cup, she made her senior debut over 400m H. She ran 54.19 – the best time in Russia that season and the fourth in the world. “I was 6th at the Nationals on the 400m, so I was only a relay alternate for the Worlds. I planned to run 200m at the Russian Cup, but at the last moment I decided to try hurdles instead. I wanted to run this event for a long time, but was afraid to risk, but it was the moment when I had nothing to lose. I was running relaxed, didn’t even count the steps between the hurdles, I was just having fun. But after my unexpected fast time, I was told that I was to run hurdles in Berlin and then I suddenly felt nervous,” Antyukh laughed.

By the way, it is in the nature of Antyukh to run take risks. For example in the off-season of 2011 she took part in the Russian version of “Wipeout” TV-show. “Watching this kind of shows on TV we always think that for us, professional athletes, this shouldn’t be too hard. But in fact it was. It was not that easy physically, but it was even more hard mentally, I was really scared at times, especially while being catapulted from the giant water ramp. And of course you are always being cautious not to get injured in any way,” Antyukh recalled. She also gave bobsleigh a thought, but considered it too dangerous after the crash of ex-sprinter Irina Skvortsova. “Even though Irina was unable to even walk for a long time, she was saying that she wanted to get back to bob. I just don’t get it, it’s too much. But I do follow this sport as there are several Russian track and field athletes competing,” Antyukh said. And one of those athletes is Natalya’s brother Kirill who also ran 400 m hurdles until 2011.

Even though Natalya ran a fast time at the 2009 Russia Cup, nobody expected her to make miracles in Berlin, as consistency in hurdles requires a substantial amount of racing. But, not having too much pressure on her, Antyukh exceeded all expectations making it to the final and taking the 6th place. “I was getting more and more experienced from round to round as I was trying out different strategies. But there was only one main thought in my mind all the way – not to fall. After Berlin I was sure that I would switch to this event fully. I even had some regrets about not switching earlier,” Antyukh admitted.

She was right, with the specific training she managed to a whole new level of results. It became obvious when she won the 2010 European Championships in 52.92. “I didn’t expect to run this fast. And I was very happy to beat the championships record, as it belonged to my compatriot Marina Stepanova(-Makeeva), a person that I knew rather well personally and always admired. After that race I didn’t think that the World record (52.34) was close, 0.6 sec is actually quite a lot, but it was definitely much closer than ever before,” Antyukh said.

The season of the Daegu World Championships went smoothly for the Russian. “It was the first time in many years that I wasn’t stressed at the national championships. I knew that I would win if I didn’t make any major mistakes. I just ran on my own, testing my speed to make sure that I was prepared for Worlds,” Antyukh said. Indeed she won the Nationals in 53.75 with a one second margin over the second place. In Daegu, Antyukh ran 53.85 to get the bronze behind Lashinda Demus and the Olympic champion Melanie Walker who both dipped under 53 seconds. “I’m a sensible person, so I realised that Demus and Walker were far superior. But I was very satisfied with my bronze and with the fact that I was still the best in Europe,” Antyukh admitted. But Natalya also didn’t deny that the final race was technically imperfect. “The first hurdle is always the trickiest for me. And that day it let me down again. I made 22 steps to it instead of 21, so I ran all the hurdles in the race taking off with the “wrong” leg. The thing is that my flat speed that season increased by so much that I struggled to deal with it over the hurdles,” Natalya explained.

So the pre-Olympic off-season consisted of endless hours of speed work and technical adjustments. To relax and distract herself during the non-competition period, Antyukh loves to embroider pictures and to play with her pet – a tiny dog. Nataya is also a collector: she collects Starbucks’ teddy bears from the cities around the world that she’s been to. And of course she wanted to bring home one from London.

The Olympic year always brings surprises and there it was: a surprising world lead at the European Championships in June by the young Russian, Irina Davydova. But she was given a bye into the Olympics, so the National Trials were once again stress-less for Antyukh. In Cheboksary she ran a world lead of 53.40 all by herself. “I just wanted to run fast to be confident about my shape ahead of the Olympics, and I did it. Nothing different from last year, basically,” Antyukh said.

She often hears about the comparisons between her and Irina Privalova, the Russian 60m and 100m sprinter who switched to 400m hurdles and after just one season in this event won the Sydney Olympics. “I respect Irina very much, she is one of the greatest athletes ever. But I didn’t think of her as a role model when I switched events. I did it because I knew how to run hurdles from my youth. Actually my role model in running is Michael Johnson. When I watched a tape of my Olympic final in Athens and heard a commentator comparing me to Johnson, I was just ecstatic!” Antyukh smiled.

Personal Bests

400m: 49.85 (2004)

400mH: 52.92 (2010)

Yearly Progression

400mH/400m: 1998: 59.94(0.762m)/-; 1999: 1:01.85/56.3h; 2000: 58.30/54.12i; 2001: -/51.19; 2002: -/51.24(51.17i); 2003: -/52.28(51.73i); 2004: -/49.85; 2005: -/50.67; 2006:-/50.47(50.37i); 2007: -/49.93; 2008:  -/51.19; 2009: 54.11/50.90; 2010: 52.92/-; 2011: 53.75/50.73; 2012: 53.40/51.51

Career Highlights

1998             1st                World Youth Games (Moscow)     400m H (0.762m)  59.94

2001             3rd                 European Cup (Bremen)    (400m)   51.37

2001              h                  World Championships (Edmonton)    (400m)  52.71

2002              1st                European Indoor Championships (Vienna)  (400m)   51.65

2002             2nd               European Championships (Munich)     (4x400m)  3:25.59

2002             2nd               World Cup (Madrid)     (4x400m)   3:26.59

2003             3rd                European Indoor Cup (Leipzig)   (400m)  52.66

2003              1st                World Indoor Championships (Birmingham)  (4x400m)  3:28.45

2004             2nd               World Indoor Championships (Budapest)  (4x400m heat)  3:31.27 (RUS won gold and set WR without her in the final)

2004              2nd                European Cup (Bydgoszcz)  (200m)  22.83

2004            3rd               Olympic Games (Athens)  (400m) 49.89

2004              2nd               Olympic Games (Athens)  (4x400m)   3:20.16

2005             1st                European Cup (Firenze)   (400m)  50.67

2005              1st                European Cup (Firenze)    (4x400m) 3:23.56

2005            sf                World Championships (Helsinki)   (400m)   50.99

2005             1st                World Championships (Helsinki)   (4x400m)   3:20.95

2005            8th                 World Athletics Final (Monaco)   (400m)  51.90

2006            1st                World Indoor Championships (Moscow)   (4x400m)   3:24.91

2007             2nd               European Indoor Championships (Birmingham) (4x400m)  3:28.16

2007             6th                World Championships (Osaka)  (400m)  50.33

2007            4th                World Championships (Osaka)    (4x400m)  3:20.25

2009            4th                European Indoor Championships (Torino)   (400m)   52.37

2009             1st                 European Indoor Championships (Torino)  (4x400m)  3:29.12

2009            6th                World Championships (Berlin)   (400m H)   54.11

2010            1st                European Team Championships (Bergen)  (4x400m)   3:23.76

2010             1st                European Championships (Barcelona)  (400m H)  52.92

2010             4th               Continental Cup (Split)   (400m H)    55.19

2011            2nd               European Team Championships (Stockholm)  (400m H)  54.52

2011            3rd                World Championships (Daegu)  (400m H)   53.85

2011             3rd                World Championships (Daegu)  (4x400 m)   3:19.36

Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2012