Ukraine’s Vitaly Petrov was presented with the IAAF Coaches’ Award at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco in recognition of his life-long devotion to developing Pole Vault World and Olympic champions.
Extract from the IAAF 2007 Yearbook
Vitaliy Petrov remembers very well the day when he stopped his 16-year long coaching of Sergey Bubka. It was the 16th of June 1990 and it turned out to be the decisive point for both of them.
"From all points of view, Sergey was the most unordinary boy I met in life,” says Petrov today. “When he was only 12 years old and made his first jumps with a metallic pole I was sure that he was going to be a leading athlete in the world and achieve record heights.”
Petrov says that the day he and Bubka stopped their cooperation was a sad day. He believes Bubka has not materialised his true potential and thinks he could have jumped 6.30m.
At the same time they were facing new challenges. Petrov began working with the Italian national team after accepting the invitation of Elio Locatelli, the Italian team leader at the time. Meanwhile Bubka was on the road to more victories at major championships.
Locatelli told Petrov: "Come to Italy, we are waiting for you."
"I was facing the most serious challenge in my live to begin to work in a country which didn’t have the same pole vault culture as the former Soviet Union,” Petrov explains. “At the same time Bubka was coaching himself with the help of assistants. I only asked him to stay in our training system created in Donetsk."
In November 1992 Petrov began his first training camp in Turin. He did not wait too long for the first results of his work. Very soon his jumpers set 4 Italian records. In just a few years the national record stood at 5.75m.
Coaching the world
Later Petrov began to train jumpers and coaches from Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Poland with today's leader Monika Pyrek. On the eve of the 2007 World Athletics Final in Stuttgart he told Pyrek: ‘Today will be your best competition.’ And she achieved her personal best result of 4.82m.
Petrov continued his work in Formia with Italian pole vaulters, athletes and coaches from other countries, teaching them his knowledge and not keeping any secret.
"I think the most important is the mentality of the athlete and the readiness to overcome all the difficulties on the way to success. That is a main secret."
Petrov is very proud of the fact that every athlete with whom he has worked has improved on his or her personal best. Now he knows for sure that his way of training is the best one.
In 2005 he met Yelena Isinbayeva and she asked him to coach her. At first he did not agree with her proposal, but she told him that whatever his decision she would keep on looking for a new coach.
"OK. Let's try to work and we’ll see whether we'll continue our trainings," he later told Isinbayeva. He obviously understood the great responsibility of training the World Pole Vault star.
"She has overcome tremendous changes in her life like a really big champion,” Petrov says of the reigning World and Olympic champion. “Now everything is different. She lives in another world and there is no family or friends beside her. Feofanova was injured when Isinbayeva moved so she was lucky not to be under great pressure in competition. She had some time to get accustomed to her new life. Now she has more stability in her jumps and we did everything to build a base for a new progress.
Petrov believes Isinbayeva is now entering the greatest phase of her career and will set no fewer than two World records next summer and a few indoor records. And like her coach she believes in her future.
Nikaolay Ivanov for the IAAF