Lysenko’s time has already come
Tatyana Lysenko who turned 22 years of age on 9 October 2005 can already boast achievements which many athletes strive for their entire careers and never match. In the young Russian’s short saunter on the international stage she has become women’s Hammer Throw World record holder and World Championship bronze medallist.
A fortnight of excellence
From taking 5th place finishes in both the European Under-23 Championships and the World Student Games in 2003, and then failing to qualify for the final at the Athens Olympics in the following year, Lysenko in 2005 spectacularly emerged as the world’s furthest thrower in a concentrated fortnight of excellence.
With the World record of Romanian Mihaela Melinte standing at 76.07m since 29 August 1999, Lysenko first came to attention last year on 29 June in Moscow when she set a national record of 75.95m, having earlier in the competition also thrown 75.90m. She matched her record feat on 13 July in Tula when winning the Russian Championship, and this time could also highlight two other 75m plus marks (75.04 and 75.17). It was clear that a firm platform of consistency had been established by the youngster and a realistic challenge to the World record might soon be mounted.
However, that that achievement came just two days later (15 July) in the annual Kuts Memorial meeting was a surprise to most. There Lysenko spun out a 76.05m national record in the third round, backed that up with a 75.81 release in the fifth, before unleashing her 77.06m diamond in the final round. The 21 year-old had become the World record holder.
Devoted to throwing since a 15-year-old
Lysenko has devoted all her life to sport and daily makes 60 attempts when she practices the long throws. She is a tall, friendly and extremely attractive character, with an athletic physic to match - 1.86m; weight is 81kg - that makes her fast and nimble in the throwing circle.
Her first love was basketball, and she remembers the exact day when she plunged herself into the world of hammer throwing. It was the 27 April 1999 when Lysenko started training under the eyes of her first and still only coach Nickolai Beloborodov. It happened in her native town of Bataisk which, before you try looking for it, is tiny and so somewhat difficult to find on the map of the Rostov-on-Don region where she was born and still lives.
Lysenko comes from quite a large family: six brothers, two sisters and already ten nephews. She loves them all and spends all her free time with them.
The number ‘27’ is sacred for Lysenko for after just two practice sessions under Beloborodov’s guidance, the then 15-year-old teenager made her first hammer throw attempt, which landed out at 27 metres. Now six years later she has added 50 metres to her personal best!
Competitive training environment
There are many gifted disciples in Beloborodov’s group. Besides Lysenko there are also two other well-known hammer throwers – Yekaterina Khoroshikh, the European U-23 gold medallist and Yelena Priyma, who are also of the same age as the World record holder. And so every practice session, to say nothing about official meetings, turns out to be a serious competition for the girls, which of cause fosters great improvement and development in all. “I’m always trying to be the first in our group,” admits Lysenko, but it is always a friendly rivalry.
Before Lysenko’s emergence ‘the’ name in Russian women’s hammer throwing had been Olga Kuvenkova, and the 35-year-old with six World records on her career CV, and the 2002 European and last summer’s World titles to her credit, can still logically argue that she remains the best. However, despite Lysenko’s eventual defeat at the hands of Kuzenkova when she had to settle for the 2005 World Championships bronze behind her vastly experienced colleague, it should not be forgotten that she had earlier triumphed at the Russian Championships, leaving Kuzenkova 2.36m behind on that occasion!
Inexperience but great progression
But why did Lysenko ‘fail’ then to win the World Championship in Helsinki? The answer is very simple, she remains inexperienced. Her performance at Helsinki was only her third official international start. Also, her season was miss-timed, with all her best results being achieved in the end of June and at the beginning of July. She peaked one month too early.
But we should not concentrate on the negatives because of course in one remarkable season Lysenko has improved her best by over 5.5 metres. “It looks like that my time has come. I was waiting for that so long and working very hard to get it. In general my throws were not bad at all but still there were technical drawbacks. So I know my mistakes and I have to work hard to avoid them in the future,” commented Lysenko, who remains ambitious and dreams of both World and Olympic golds.
But what about her rival Kuzenkova, do they get on well together? Lysenko’s response is tactful, that with a 13 year difference in age between them that it makes social conversation a bit difficult. One can only guess what the World champion must feel about the youngster’s sudden appearance on the world stage!
Nickolai Dolgopolov, Rostislav Orlov and Chris Turner for the IAAF