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Olympic doubts for Tatyana Kotova


Alfons Juck for IAAF

6 September 2000 - The narrowest winner of the IAAF Golden League jackpot share Russian long jumper Tatyana Kotova (23) looked very good in Berlin, full of smiles and gestures of victory.

The latest news is a little less optimistic.

After her car accident on August 1, her latest tests have revealed headaches and difficulty sleeping. Her doctors are even recommending that she should not compete at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

Her agent Pavel Voronkov admits: "We thought everything was ok. But the week after Brussels she nearly did not sleep at all. The symptoms are that she may have some residual head injuries. We are hoping for the best and will know more in the next two weeks. But her Olympics participation is now seriously in question."

Kotova is currently with other members of the Russian Olympic squad at a training camp near Tokyo. For sure she will not compete at last IAAF Permit meet of the season on Saturday in Yokohama. She will travel to Sydney and make the decision about the participation as late as possible.

About her dramatic win in last leg of Golden League she said: "In the last try I tried to get all my powers focused. I listened to all the advice of my coach, who told to me to make small adjustments in my approach. At the end of the day I was lucky to win.

"Always I said to myself, do not think too much, just compete.

"I do not want to predict anything for the Olympics, this will be totally different from a one day meeting. But I think the main contenders for gold should be Heike Drechsler and Fiona May. I do not think Marion Jones will win, she is very quick, but not specialised in long jumping. To win I think one would need to jump around 7.20 m."

Tatyana Kotova lives in the central Siberian city of Barnaul, where she is coached by Vladimir Kudryavtsev (he had in his group in the past for example Natalya Shubenkova, who won a silver medal at the 1986 European Championships in the heptathlon).

Kotova´s personal best of 7.04m came from her last attempt in the first Golden League meet in Paris last June. She won also in Rome and Oslo, but then the car accident happened.

"She was sitting behind the taxi driver, who misjudged a turn and collided with another car. Tatyana was two days at home in bed, but that was all. It looked as though she just had some minor head injuries and a few bruises on her body.

"Soon she started with training. But she had also an injury from the Rome meet, she jumped with a taped foot already in Lausanne, at the national champs and in Oslo.

"Because of the accident and the injury we skipped the next Golden League events in Zurich and Monte Carlo. Then we did a test event in Novosibirsk on Aug 19 and Tatyana jumped 6.70. That was the sign that we can go to Brusels and Berlin," explains her coach, doctor and husband in one person Vladimir Kudryavtsev.

And she won in Brussels and in last jump by one centimetre also in Berlin. In her 2000 outdoor tally there is only one loss in 11 competitions.

Tayana admits she started to take athletics seriously in 1995, before that it was just children’s sports and also some basketball and volleyball. In 1997 she won a gold medal at the European U23 Championships in Turku, Finland. In 1999 she won a gold medal at the World Indoors in Maebashi but did not qualify for the finals at the World Championships in Seville (though only by one place).

She was born in Kokandu (Uzbekistan), then she moved to Taboshari (Tadjikistan), father comes from Cherkassy in Ukraine and now she lives in Central Siberia. So she is a real traveller through the former Soviet Union republics. Now she is facing the biggest event of her career - the Olympic Games. The athletics family around the world is hoping she will be able to compete.