Ivana Spanovic at the 2013 IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Novi Sad, Serbia

Serbia's Spanovic hopes to spring a surprise again in Sopot

Not many people would have listed Ivana Spanovic as a likely medallist ahead of the IAAF World Championships this summer but the Serbian long jumper finally showed she can rise to the occasion in Moscow and intends to do so again at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, next March.

Spanovic, 23, picked up the bronze medal in Moscow with a national record of 6.82m and a similar effort under cover – she also holds the Serbian indoor record with 6.73m, which she leapt to win at this year’s Balkan indoor championships in Istanbul – could secure her another place on the podium.

The Russian capital saw her become the first Serbian athlete to win a medal at the Championships, even before the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and it was Spanovic’s first trip up a set of steps at a global championship since she won the IAAF World Junior Championships title in 2008.

Her progress has since then sometimes been stalled by ill-timed injuries and she didn't compete at either the 2009 or 2011 World Championships.

Now, fully fit and flying, she is looking forward to her first appearance at the World Indoor Championships, whose next edition will be held in the Polish city from 7-9 March next year.

She commenced her winter preparations earlier this month, spending a week at a training centre in the Austrian town of Talgai with her coach Goran Obradovic.

"For me this was a great experience. There were many tests and drills that I did the first time and it will be very interesting to compare the results at the beginning of this preparatory period with those at the end of the winter season, when I will be in top shape,” she said.

Mind does matter

"The most important thing is that all examinations and tests done at the beginning of the training process, and the results, will provide a clear understanding of what aspects I need to be aware of in order to be better prepared for the World Indoor Championships," added Spanovic, who also underwent a battery of psychological tests.

She will need to mentally strong in Sopot as she’s likely to face again the two-time defending World indoor champion Brittney Reese, who has won at every global championship since 2009, including the last two editions of the World Indoor Championships in Doha and Istanbul.

Reese confirmed last week that she will be going for her hat-trick of indoor titles.

Spanovic, who hails from Serbia’s second city Novi Sad and who is in the third year of degree in architecture,  admits that in the past, she’s lost focus on the big occasion, as witnessed by her below-par results at the last two European Athletics Championships and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

However, after Moscow, she now has few fears about her ability to produce her best form when it counts and will be looking to prove that again in Sopot.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF