Olesya Zykina

Athlete Profile

    Russia Russia
    07 OCT 1980
Olesya Zykina wins her second gold medal of the day in the women's 4x400m relay (Getty Images)

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
100 Metres 11.84 -0.1 Annecy (Park des Sports) 28 JUL 1998
200 Metres 22.55 0.0 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 24 JUL 2005
300 Metres 36.70 Gateshead (International Stadium) 19 AUG 2001
400 Metres 50.15 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 13 JUL 2001

Personal Best - Indoor

Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 23.28 Moskva 22 FEB 2008
300 Metres 37.08 Ekaterinburg 07 JAN 2003
400 Metres 51.09 Valencia (Velódromo Luis Puig), ESP 09 MAR 2008
400 Metres 51.09 Moskva 09 FEB 2008

Progression - Outdoor

100 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
1998 11.84 -0.1 Annecy (Park des Sports) 28 JUL

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2008 23.07 -0.3 Kazan 19 JUL
2007 23.00 Irkutsk 18 AUG
2006 23.33 +1.3 Rieti 27 AUG
2005 22.55 0.0 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 24 JUL
2004 23.04 +2.0 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 25 JUN
2000 22.78 +1.9 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 03 JUN

300 Metres

Performance Place Date
2001 36.70 Gateshead (International Stadium) 19 AUG

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2010 52.52 Moskva 07 JUL
2009 52.87 Cheboksary 23 JUL
2008 51.42 Kazan 17 JUL
2007 50.81 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 01 AUG
2006 51.76 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 13 JUN
2005 50.73 Helsinki (Olympic Stadium) 08 AUG
2004 50.44 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 31 JUL
2003 50.39 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 09 AUG
2002 50.44 Zürich 16 AUG
2001 50.15 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 13 JUL
2000 50.36 Tula (Arsenal Stadium) 23 JUL
1999 51.31 Rostov 09 JUL

Progression - Indoor

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2008 23.28 Moskva 22 FEB
2007 23.76 Volgograd (Infizkult Manezh Stadium) 21 JAN
2004 23.59 Volgograd (Infizkult Manezh Stadium) 17 JAN
2000 23.51 Karlsruhe 29 JAN
1999 23.47 Moskva 19 FEB

300 Metres

Performance Place Date
2007 37.19 Ekaterinburg 07 JAN
2003 37.08 Ekaterinburg 07 JAN
2002 37.59 Ekaterinburg 07 JAN

400 Metres

Performance Place Date
2011 53.60 Moskva 16 FEB
2009 52.96 Moskva 13 FEB
2008 51.09 Valencia (Velódromo Luis Puig), ESP 09 MAR
2008 51.09 Moskva 09 FEB
2007 51.69 Birmingham (NIA), GBR 03 MAR
2004 51.65 Moskva 18 FEB
2003 51.23 Moskva 26 FEB
2002 52.69 Pireás (P&F Stadium) 20 FEB
2001 51.33 Moskva 17 FEB
2000 53.11 Volgograd (Infizkult Manezh Stadium) 05 FEB
1999 54.58 Moskva 22 JAN

Honours - 100 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Junior Championships 8 11.88 +1.7 Annecy (Park des Sports) 29 JUL 1998

Honours - 400 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
12th IAAF World Indoor Championships 1 51.09 Valencia (Velódromo Luis Puig), ESP 09 MAR 2008
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 51.24 Helsinki (Olympic Stadium) 10 AUG 2005
1st IAAF World Athletics Final 5 51.81 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 14 SEP 2003
9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 50.59 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 27 AUG 2003
9th IAAF World Cup in Athletics 3 50.67 Madrid (CM) 20 SEP 2002
8th IAAF World Championships 6 50.93 Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium) 07 AUG 2001
8th IAAF World Indoor Championships 3 51.71 Lisboa (Atlantic Pavillion) 11 MAR 2001

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Updated 22 February 2008

Olesya ZYKINA, Russia (400m)

Born: 7 October 1980, Kaluga

Height: 1.76m; Weight: 60kg

Lives: Tula and Moscow

Coach: Matvey Telyatnikov (before October 2007 –Sergey Reutov & Natalia Kovtun)

Manager: Aivar Karotamm

Almost ten years have passed since the summer that Olesya Zykina underwent a baptism of fire for the Russia junior team. The ginger-haired sprinter lined up as the only white athlete in the final of the women’s 100m at the 1998 World Junior Championships in Annecy, France. Placing eighth and last, she observed in jest: “I was looking effective indeed against a background of my black-skinned rivals”.

Zykina clocked 11.88 to finish eighth and last, although, in the second round, she recorded her still unsurpassed personal best of 11.84. The next year she became the heroine of the European Junior Championships in Riga, Latvia, gaining two gold medals at her favourite distance. She won the 400m (52.00) and ran the final lap in 4x400m relay. From then until now Zykina has focused on those two events.

Strange as it may seem, the young Zykina never dreamed of being an athlete. Her parents are rather distant from sport: her mother is a governess in kindergarten and her father is a cook. And Olesya herself indulged in music until she was 14 years old, being earnest in playing the piano. But her school teacher had noticed her sporting talent and persuaded the young girl to run seriously.

After finishing music school, Zykina eventually joined the athletics section and almost instantly started to achieve a success in competition. Svetlana Masterkova, Russia’s 1996 Olympic 800/1500m champion, has always been her cult figure. Zykina admits that she would not have started to go in for sport had she not seen a TV show about Masterkova and her Olympic triumphs. She was inspired by Masterkova’s achievements and began to train hard.

(After helping Russia to win 4 x 400 in European Cup in Gateshead, England, in July) Zykina contested her first Olympic Games in 2000, in Sydney, but was hardly successful.  She did not run her leg convincingly enough to be selected for the final, in which the Russian team finished third. However, she still received an Olympic bronze medal as a member of the team, so it was progress of a kind for the young runner.

The following winter Zykina proved that she had not just got lucky as she became a member of Russian team by right. In the 2001 World Indoor Championships, in Lisbon, she finished the third (51.71) behind Sandie Richards, from Jamaica, and fellow Russian Olga Kotlyarova. She also earned a gold medal as a member of relay team, this time running in the final.

In 2002 Zykina won the 400m (50.45) at the European Championships in Munich, denying Grit Breuer a successful defence of her title in front of her home crowd. Zykina also won a silver medal as a member of Russian relay quartet. That year she also gained two medals at the World Cup, Madrid – a silver in the 4x400m and bronze in the individual 400m (50.67).

In 2003, Zykina’s best results were connected with the 4x400m as, with her team-mates, she took gold at the World Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, and silver from the outdoor World Championships, in Paris. One of the most satisfying achievements was her silver medal in 4x400m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. “It’s much more difficult to take part in relay, for the success of your team rests on your shoulders and depends on you,” Zykina said. “But, once your team wins, the glory and joy are rather stronger”.

At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Zykina finished only sixth, clocking 51.24 after a 50.73 semi-final run. And she practically missed 2006 season. “Sometimes it’s necessary to have a rest and to gain strength,” she said. “I had to stop and consider my state”.

The 2007 season went well for Zykina as she finished third in the European Indoor Championships 400m in Birmingham and climbed the second step of podium with her team-mates after the relay. But, to everybody’s surprise, she placed only seventh in the Russian Championships with the time 51.04 after a 50.81 semi-final.

Zykina did not compete at the World Championships, in Osaka, and afterwards she considered changing coach. It was a distressing process because she had spent many years with her coaches, Sergey Reutov and Natalia Kovtun, and was devoted to them. But she turned to Matvey Telyatnikov and, since autumn of 2007, they have worked together.

“I have no regrets,” Zykina said. “I’m just very glad to train with him”. And her results at the beginning of the 2008 season indicate that it was a clever and clear-sighted decision. Zykina started the new season not just by winning the Russian Indoor Championships but by clocking her new personal best (51.09).

 “I was eager to win, but I had doubted whether I was in good condition to do it,” she said. “It’s always much more difficult to run in winter, because you have to run two laps instead of one and choose the right moment to come off the bend (from the steep turn). Also you have to take into consideration your rivals, who are also pressing towards the straight. But today I managed to do everything right. And what makes me even happier is that I showed the best result in my entire career.

“I hope that in Valencia (2008 World Indoor Championships) I will run even faster. I have a desire to achieve that. I feel new emotions inside myself and new power. I suppose it’s the beginning of new stage of my life. And it’s definitely the step forward”.

During this interview Zykina was always smiling. She is seldom sad because she is optimistic by nature.

Personal Bests

100m – 11.84 (1998)
200m – 22.55 (2005)
300m – 36.70 (2001)
400m – 50.15 (2001)

60m –    7.47 (2004)
200m – 23.38 (2008)
300m – 36.69 (2004)
400m – 51.09 (2008)

Yearly Progression

1997 - 58.64; 1999 - 51.31; 2000 - 50.36; 2001 - 50.15; 2002 - 50.44; 2003 - 50.39; 2004 - 50.44; 2005 - 50.73; 2006 - 51.86; 2007 - 50.81; 2008 - 51.09i

Career Highlights

1998 1 Russian U20 Championships 100m 11.92
 3 Russian U20 Championships 200m 23.98
 8 World Junior Championships 100m 11.88
 2 World Junior Championships 4x400m 
1999 1 Russian Indoor U20 Championships 400m 53.67
 1 Russian U20 Championships 400m 51.31
 1 European U20 Championships 400m 52.00
 1 European U20 Championships 4x400m 
2000 1 European Cup 4x400m 
 3 Olympic Games 4x400m heat
2001 3 World Indoor Championships 400m 51.71
 1 World Indoor Championships 4x400m 
 1 Russian Championships 400m 50.15
 6 World Championships 400m 50.93
 3 World Championships 4x400m 
2002 1 Russian Championships 400m 50.94
 1 European Championships 400m 50.45
 2 European Championships 4x400m 
 3 World Cup 400m 50.67
 3 World Cup 4x400m 
2003 3 Russian Indoor Championships 400m 51.23
 1 World Indoor Championships 4x400m 
 2 Russian Championships 400m 50.39
 6 World Championships 400m 50.59
 2 World Championships 4x400m 
2004 3 Russian Championships 400m 50.44
 2 Olympic Games 4x400m 
2005 3 Russian Championships 400m 50.85
 6 World Championships 400m 51.24
 1 World Championships 4x400m heat
 3 European Indoor Championships 400m 51.69
2008 1 Russian Indoor Championships 400m 51.09


Prepared by Larisa Voloshina, Sergey Tikhonov & Marina Voloshina for IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.

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