IAAF Ambassador and former World record-holder Colin Jackson and European indoor and outdoor champion Sergey Shubenkov were the special guest stars of a hurdles master class which was held in Shubenkov’s hometown of Barnaul, Siberia yesterday afternoon (8 May).
Approximately 50 youngsters aged 12 to 15 gathered at the Olympic Development Centre track in Barnaul, the administrative centre of the Altai Krai, for what they will remember as the experience of their lifetime.
A two-time World champion and four-time European champion, Jackson had travelled to Siberia the day before to pay a surprise visit to Shubenkov, Russia’s most promising hurdles prospect and one of the country’s leading hopes for this summer’s IAAF World Championships which will be held in Moscow, 10-18 August.
Held in a scorching 25°C heat, the master class included warm-up, stretching and specific hurdles drills which preceded a friendly heats, semi-finals and final five-hurdles competition. Youngsters qualifying from the early rounds lined up for the final where they competed against Jackson in lane eight and Shubenkov in lane five. The eventual winner, 11-year-old Anzhelika, was delighted with her victory.
“It has been a great day,” she explained in English. “Yes I do believe I can be a champion in the future!” she smiled.
It was an incredible experience for both Jackson and Shubenkov who spent two days together chatting about life, career plans, hurdles skills, World Championships among many other subjects. Shubenkov was a particularly proud host and fantastic ambassador for his home town and region praising all the facilities, albeit basic, the support and team spirit which has fostered his talent and personality.
“I am exceptionally grateful that Colin has made this trip to visit me in my home town,” said Shubenkov. “I hope this will help increase the recognition of my region, my sport in Siberia and Russia and me.
“I have learnt a lot from him as a person and I sincerely hope this is the first of many times that Colin will come to Siberia.”
Jackson himself was impressed by the welcome he was treated to in Barnaul where he genuinely made an impact on not only Shubenkov but also his training partners Aleksey Dryomin, a 13.51 hurdler and Olympian last year in London, and 17-year-old Yuliya Sokolova, one of Russia’s prospects for this summer’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, and on each and every single child who attended the master class and was lucky enough to be part of this very special athletics festival.
“It has been an amazing couple of days,” Jackson declared. “I have got to know Sergey better and I can say he’s a very smart and intelligent young man as well as a very talented young hurdler. I can definitely see a bright future for him.”
“On a personal note, I am extremely happy that he has learnt something new from me today!”
Indeed, following a series of basic hurdles drills, and after being asked to demonstrate his favourite exercise, Jackson moved the barriers around placing them in alternate lanes and setting off to a lead-leg/trail-leg hurdle drill to which the crowd responded with loud “Wows” and “Ohs”.
It didn’t take long for an excited Shubenkov to set off on his first attempt at the drill which needless to say he completed at the first time of asking, although his hurdling wasn’t quite as fluid as Jackson’s after decades of practice for this specific drill.
“I’m definitely going to add this drill to my training and by the time I see Colin again, I will definitely master it,” Shubenkov smiled.
A smile which has hardly left his face since Jackson arrived in Siberia.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF