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News30 Aug 2011

After World Youth and Junior titles, Chernova's rise continues


Tatyana Chernova of Russia celebrates winning the Heptathlon gold medal in Daegu (© Getty Images)

Russia's Tatyana Chernova knew that if she wanted to end a run of disappointments at the IAAF World championships, she needed a change in attitude.

"Before I would always do well in certain events, but never in all of them over the two days," Chernova said after winning the Heptathlon title on Tuesday night with a career-best 6880 points. "This year I was more focused. Maybe I'm a bit more mature."

The 23-year-old Chernova showed the effects of an improved mental outlook over the two grueling days, chalking up a personal best in the Shot Put with a toss of 14.17m and tying two others, in the 100m Hurdles (13.32) and 200m (23.50).

"It is a great end of the year and now I'm happy I can start preparation for the Olympic season with the knowledge that I am a winner," Chernova said.

Just as importantly, she dealt a psychological blow to main rival Jessica Ennis in the leadup to London, a significant point given that she will be going for Olympic gold in enemy territory.

"Of course, it strengthens the meaning of the victory and if I can beat Jessica here it gives me confidence for the future," Chernova said.

Ennis's gold-medal hopes were scuttled by a poor 39.95m javelin toss and she took the silver with 6751 points.

"She was also very strong today," Chernova said. "But the mistakes she made are not acceptable if you want to win the Heptathlon. In London, we will have to have our best results from the beginning to end and the one who will be better shape and more confident will be [the winner]."

In addition to moving up to ninth on the all-time list, Chernova became the eight member of an exclusive club of athletes who have won World youth, World junior and World senior titles. Four of the others - Veronica Campbell-Brown, Usain Bolt, Valerie Adams and Yelena Isinbayeva - went on to also win Olympic golds. Cherova has an eye on making it a quintet.

"Of course it's a dream of any athlete," she said. "You grow up, you are youth champion, then junior champion, of course you want to change it to world champion and Olympic champion."

Chernova seemed born to succeed. Her father Sergey Chernov was a well-known Soviet decathlete, while her mother Lyudmila Chernova was a member of the 4x400m Relay team that won a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Surrounded by the world of athletics growing up, she naturally drifted into the sport herself. As she liked all of the events, the Heptathlon was a natural choice.

Coached by her father, she gave a glimpse of things to come in 2005 by breaking Carolina Kluft's under-17 record with a score of 5991, which she followed up by winning the World youth title. She added the World junior title the next year.

Success on the major senior level did not come as easy. Despite strong performances leading up the 2007 World championships in Osaka, she withdrew after finishing the first day in 17th place due to a thigh injury.

The next year at the Beijing Olympics, Chernova finished fourth in the competition, but was moved up to the bronze medal when Ukraine's Lyudmila Blonska was stripped of the silver medal due to a positive doping test. At the 2009 World championships in Berlin, she again failed to put together a strong meet and had to settle for eighth place.

Mentally as well as physically prepared this season, Chernova started off with a second-place finish to Ennis in Gotzis, then scored a career-best 6773 to win in Kladno.

"I started the year already in very good shape," she said. "I somehow missed it in the season-opener in Gotzis. But then I set my PB in the meeting in Kladno and it gave me confidence that here at the World Championships I will also be in great shape."

Chernova said having a parent as a coach offers advantages in her family relations, as they are well-acquainted with the particular needs of an athlete.

"It's fun and not difficult to have a sports family," she said. "Everyday you go to sleep and wake up and they know that you need to relax, that you need to sleep, what you need to eat, what you need to do. They always say these things to me."

In the near future, Chernova might not be only member of the family starring on the world stage.

"Now my brother [Evgeny] starts to do decathlon, so maybe after one or two years we will come to championship together and fight," she said.

For now, she has other plans.

"I dream about Olympic gold, I dream about the Olympic Games," she said. "But now I have to relax then start preparing again."

Ken Marantz for the IAAF

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