Yuliya Nesterenko: I’m happy to be able to run!

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More than 10 years ago the Belarusian Yuliya Nesterenko won 100 m women’s dash in the Olympics Games in Athens. It was a historical victory that led to her career peak, then oblivion and attempts to return to sport ... It seemed that Nesterenko’s success was just a fleeting bright flash. But it wasn’t! Yuliya is back, she still runs and she shines again. At the recent Belarusian Athletics Championships Julia was among the participants. Journalists met the Olympic champion to get information about her plans for the future. This interview is not about training loads, races, distances, it’s an interview about a person who cannot live without sport, about a strong personality, despite her apparent fragility.

- Evil tongues said you wouldn’t continue running... And you are in on top form!

- They used to say a lot. It was the most difficult test for me. I was not tired so much of difficulties, loads, defeats, injuries as of the situation when almost everyone considered it their duty to discuss my conditions and give advice. It was hard not to listen to anyone, try to avoid responding to poignancy and rudeness and continue strolling on my way.

- You could have experienced many difficulties during this 10-year trip...

- Yes, really. I went through thick and thin, meanwhile my friends started families and gave birth to babies. I had to compete and train... I suffered injuries. Professional sportsmen have many injuries. I didn’t take part in the Olympic Games in London due to my foot injury. Before that I participated in other tournaments using painkillers and I made the situation worse. Again, I had some experiments, loads, I tried various techniques because I was so anxious to recover, get into shape. All I did turned to be counterproductive. Sometimes after training loads I was unable to get up due to pains. Of course after that I had some psychological problems.

- Did the strong woman cry?

- Yeaaah... The last two years were the most difficult, I was depressed. My head swarmed with different thoughts: to retire or continue competing? But how can I survive without sport? It's my life.

- For many years you have lived as a soldier. With a certain regime, limits and training loads. Your body must have shouted: “Yuliya! Stop it, it hurts”.

- Yes, it shouted something, but I did not pay attention. Only now, aged 35 I take things easy. At least, I try to do that sometimes.

- 35 years for sprint races is much. It must be hard for you to train...

- Of course the situation was absolutely different when I was 25. At that time I had one day off a week, now I have two. My coach used to say: “Yulya, have a rest”, but I continued training with zeal. Now I may feel tired after a warming up, so I finish training. I’m not lazy, I still have hard training loads: jumps, cross country running, weight lifting. The thing is that getting older I understand that I should not live the emotions.

- What are your plans for this year?

- I don’t like taking a long shot. Of course I have some plans. At the Championship that took place in the city of Mogilev I became the 2nd and I’m really happy. I didn’t think of indoor tournaments, I just started getting into shape. I’m preparing for IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. But I’m just happy to be able to run!

- And the youth are already stepping on your toes. Does Belarus have a good generation of young athletes, what do you think?

- In Mogilev Alina Talay became the winner in hurdling and in 60m dash. She is only 25, she’s in great shape. In general, we have few young people in the Belarusian track and field. Earlier we had six sprint races. Now we hardly have one and a half or two. And the results used to be better. But those girls who ran at my times have already retired. New ones did not appear. This is a problem.

- Have you ever had an idea to be a coach, find a young talented little girl, brought her up?

- To tell the truth, no. I still want to compete.

- Your coach is your husband. You and Dmitry have been married for many years. You are always together, at home, in trainings, in tournaments. You even have the same hobby – fishing…

- We are together and we are happy because we have the same goal, the same passion. It’s sport. Dima understands and supports me. I adore cats. When I was a child, I used to take home all the homeless cats. Then I started to collect cards with cats on them, now I am fond of cat figures. Unfortunately, I have never had a cat for real. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. And who is to care the cat when we go to tournaments? So once, when I was depressed, my husband went to visit friends alone. He came back with a kitten. He said his mum had agreed to care it when we were out. Dusya is 8. It’s so great to know that someone who loves me is waiting for me at home. Cats help relieve stress at once. Sometimes I think I’m cat-like. A sprint race for me is like cheetah’s running. As for fishing, it’s my husband’s hobby. But I also like fishing. My record is a 13 kilos carp that I caught at the competitions.

- How did you cook the carp? And in general what do you usually prepare for your husband? Or don’t you have time for that?

- That carp stayed alive. It was the competition’s rule. I like cooking as every housewife does. My speciality is marinated pike perch.

- All in all, is it difficult to be romantic when you are always with your husband? Do you have a place when you can be alone to relax, have a rest, and fall to thinking?

- In my spare time I travel alone around holy places. I have just come from St. Nicholas Monastery. It’s a wonderful blessing place. In Brest, by the way, I frequent St. Nicholas Church. But my favourite place is Pochayiv Lavra in Ukraine. I visited that place before the Olympics 2004. And God helped me, He performed a miracle.

- What is the next miracle you want Him to perform?

- Everyone asks God to do something. And I come to churches to pray, go away from the madding crowd and thank Him, because He performs miracles every day. It’s a miracle we live and enjoy every day. Long time ago I decided not to wait anything magic. We must believe that the best is yet to come.

Text by Pressball.by

Pictures by TUT.BY