Hanna Melnychenko, Heptathlon World Championship: An Epitome of Beauty and Fitness

 Hanna Melnychenko, Heptathlon World Championship: An Epitome of Beauty and FitnessHanna Anatoliďvna Melnychenko was born on 24th April 1983 in Tbilisi, Georgia. She is a Ukrainian heptathlete. She was married to Italian decathlete William Frullani. She won the 2013 Decastar competition with 6308 points.

President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych congratulated Hanna Melnychenko on winning heptathlon gold medal at the World Athletics Championship 2013 held in Moscow. He said about her "You've demonstrated leadership qualities, high skills and professionalism. Millions of fans were impressed by your performance. I am confident that your victory is a significant achievement in the international arena," the Head of State noted. The President wished the athlete health, happiness and new achievements for the benefit of Ukraine.

Hanna Melnychenko lives in Zaporizhzhya (but represents Poltava region at National competitions). She weighs 59 kg (130 lb) . Her height is 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in). Her coach is Dmytro Lyopa, Viktoriya Kozlova.

Hanna Melnychenko grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, where her grandfather remained after the Second World War (he was Ukrainian but, after suffering injury, he stayed in a Georgian hospital and did not return to Ukraine). There were no lessons in physical culture in school so little Hanna was keen on ballroom dancing and attended circus school. In 1993, together with her mother, she moved to the Ukrainian town of Kremenchug (motherland of her mother) because of hostilities in Georgia.

Melnychenko’s teacher of physical culture in Kremenchug identified her sporting talent and advised her to join the athletics group. However, Melnychenko, who came into athletics at the age of 12, didn’t like training and, after some practice sessions, she left athletics. She preferred to dance. Thankfully, her coach, Viktoriya Kozlova, was persistent in her attempts to persuade Melnychenko to return to the sport and she succumbed at the age of 14.

The gifted girl’s results improved quickly. One year later Melnychenko became the leader in her training group and one of the most promising athletes in the Poltava region. At the age of 15 she won regional youth competitions in Hurdles and Long Jump. Moreover, Melnychenko fulfilled the standard of Candidate to Sport’s Master (according Ukrainian classification) in the High Jump, clearing 1.70m. It was unexpected because there was no equipment for High Jump training in Kremenchug.

“Hanna was very gifted, thin, lithe and perceptive for technical work,” coach Kozlova recalls. “She was very ambitious. She began to train seriously only after her first wins at youth age.” Kozlova’s training methods included studies in all athletics events. So Melnychenko was soon able to complete in the Heptathlon. But, because of her weakness in throwing, she could not score impressively either in the Heptathlon or the Pentathlon.

“In 2003 I the won National Championships, in Kiev, but all the Ukrainian leaders didn’t start at this competition, Melnychenko says.

 Hanna Melnychenko, Heptathlon World Championship: An Epitome of Beauty and Fitness“One year later I appeared as a member of the Ukrainian national athletics team at the European Cup for Combined Events, in Tallinn (Estonia). To be honest, I don’t remember how I competed in Estonia. I just remember I was so proud to compete in the national uniform with a boundless feeling of patriotism.” Melnychenko scored 5455 points at her first European Cup and finished 10th.

At the 2005 European Cup for Combined Events in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Melnychenko set a personal best 5809 points to finish 9th and her name was added to national team list for the U23 European Championships in Erfurt, Germany. “We were not ready to compete in Erfurt, because we planned my peak shape for the European Cup, so I was able to collect only 5502 points and finish13th,” Melnychenko recalled.

After that season, Melnychenko’s training programme was seriously changed. She worked a lot to develop her strength. As a result, in 2006, she improved considerably her results in the Shot Put and Javelin Throw. Her speed and power grew as well. In January, Melnychenko won the Italian Championship in Pentathlon, improving her PB by almost 200 points to 4213. Two weeks later she finished second at the Ukrainian National Indoor Championships with another PB (4283points).

During the 2006 summer season, Melnychenko set a Heptathlon PB in the middle of May, finishing second in the IAAF Combined Events Challenge round in Desenzano, Italy, with 5952 points. Two weeks later she improved her PB by 39 points in Götzis, Austria, and on 4 June she finished 3rd at the international Meeting in Arles, France, scoring over 6000 points for the first time. Melnychenko collected 6055 points, but in three events (100m Hurdles, 200m and Long Jump) she benefitted from wind assistance.

“At that time we didn’t think about the future European Championships,” her coach says. “Our main event was the European Cup, as usual. Every year, at the beginning of the summer season, we had to prove our place in the national team. It was not easy because Ukrainian heptathletes are very strong and there is big competition in our team. Look at Hanna’s results in 2006. She made 3 Pentathlons and 7 Heptathlons. It was too much, but there is something behind that. There are not the facilities in Kremenchug to train for such events as High Jump and Javelin throwing and to improve the technical elements in these events. So we used any opportunity to compete and to take some more practice.”

At the 2006 European Cup, in Arles, Melnychenko set her PB without wind assistance, scoring 6010 points and finishing 7th. However, as it would have been too much to expect her to peak again for the European Championships, in Göteborg, she took part mainly to support her physical shape. Though she finished 16th in Sweden (5942 points) she set two season’s best results in 200m (24.49) and 800m (2:17.93).

At the end of January 2007, Melnychenko won the Italian Indoor Championships once more (collecting a PB 4536 points) and fulfilled the standard of International Class Sports Master (Ukrainian classification). She accepted an invitation for the European Indoor Championships, in Birmingham, where she set her best indoor result in the High Jump (1.82m) but finished 10th with 4397 points.

“We decided that there was no reason to force my shape for the European Indoors because we had the goal to join the Ukrainian team for the World University Games and maybe to get the win there,” Melnychenko explains. She checked her shape at the European Cup for Combined Events (First League), in Szczecin, Poland, finishing 3rd and scoring her best total in Heptathlon (6143 points) but she had wind assistance in two events – 200m (25.15) and Long Jump (6.43).

After this success, Melnychenko was added to the national team for the World Championships, in Osaka. But first she went to Bangkok, to compete at World University Games. There she was unable to summon her strength because of very hot weather and high humidity. In the Long Jump, Melnychenko made an incorrect take off and suffered an injury. She continued with two slight tears of ligaments on her take off foot so, instead of winning, she took 3rd place with a modest 5852 points.

Melnychenko hoped to recover in time for the World Championships, although her foot was in plaster. However, although she tried, she could not finish the first event, the 100m Hurdles.

In 2008, Melnychenko began the summer season with two personal records in quick succession. First, she finished second in Desenzano, scoring 6195 points, and, one month later, at the beginning of June, she took second place at the National Championships, in Yalta, with 6203 points. She went to the European Cup for Combined Events, in Hengelo, the Netherlands, as one of the favourites and confirmed her great shape by winning this competition for the first time with a PB 6306 points. Later, in the autumn, Melnychenko received the title of Honoured Sports Master (the highest official sports title in Ukraine) thanks to her win in Hengelo.

 Hanna Melnychenko, Heptathlon World Championship: An Epitome of Beauty and FitnessYet Melnychenko’s win and high score at the European Cup didn’t guarantee her a place in her national Olympic team. In the middle of July she had to confirm her result at a local competition in Kiev. She had a clear win over Lyudmyla Yosypenko and booked her ticket to Beijing, scoring her fourth PB (6349) during that summer season, but it could not be official because of a hand timed 800m.

“I understand our national team’s management,” Melnychenko says. “They wanted to send the strongest team to the Olympic Games. But the competition in Kiev was unnecessary. Had I had more time, I would have been able to score higher in Beijing.” She finished 14th, scoring 6165 points. After three weeks of rest (doing only warm-ups) Melnychenko finished the season with 7th place in Talence, scoring 3 points more than in Beijing and beating her Olympic results in three events (High Jump, Javelin and 800m).

In the 2009 summer season, Melnychenko began with 2nd place in Desenzano with 6077 points. On 31 May she finished second in Götzis, setting a Personal Best 6445 points and was beaten only by her compatriot, Olympic champion Nataliya Dobrynska. One month later, in Szczecin, Melnychenko took her second victory at the European Cup for Combined Events, with 6380 points, to take her place in the national team for the World Championships in Berlin.

Hanna had considerably improved her speed and technical skills in Hurdles and Long Jump and was ready to fight for medals at the World Championships, but made some gross errors on the first day of the Heptathlon in Berlin. “I was so nervous and wanted to do everything impeccably,” Melnychenko analyses. “I was my main mistake. I had such great shape and everything I needed to compete for my own pleasure. I drew the correct conclusion after 100m Hurdles and just enjoyed my further performance in Berlin, setting two PBs in Long Jump (6.43) and 800m (2:12.85). But it wasn’t enough to set new PB in Heptathlon and get a medal. In Berlin I finished sixth with 6414 points. But I think that Championships was my best international event.”

Melnychenko decided to miss all 2010 year to get a full rest, but her shape stayed on a high level. She got her third title of European Cup winner and was selected for the European Championships. But in Barcelona, Hanna fouled in Long Jump and didn’t see the reason to finish that Heptathlon.

Her physical tiredness turned to back injury. She tried to compete during the indoor season 2011, but pain was too tangible to show high results. All spring and summer season 2011 she dedicated to rehabilitation.

“My life changed cardinally at September 2011.” Hanna says. “I moved to Zaporizhzhya to live together with my boyfriend, Oleksiy Kasyanov and certainly I wanted to be near him always. I had to change training group. After a serious conversation with coach Dmytro Lyopa, I entered his group. So from October 2011 I’m training together with my darling. My training changed as well.”

At the National Indoor Cup 2012 in Zaporizhzhya Melnychenko just wanted to make something like test competition to check results of new work with new coach and was very surprised by her result in Pentathlon (4513) what was a little bit less than her PB.

“After such great performance we decided to try to compete for all one is worth at the National Indoor Championships.” Hanna says. “In Sumy I improved my PB in Pentathlon to 4748 points and set four Indoor PBs in High Jump (1.84), Shot Put (13.89), Long Jump (6.41) and 800m (2:14.35). To be honest we didn’t expect that our work will have such quick and so high results. Nevertheless, I’m so happy to have the ability to compete at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. I had 1.5 years’ break from international competitions and it’s very important for me to recollect this special atmosphere and all physical and psychological feelings at the beginning of the Olympic year.”

Finally, as a note on her education, in 2002 Melnychenko finished primary-school teachers' training college in Kremenchug and, in 2007, she finished Polytechnic University in Kremenchug with the specialty of land engineering. Hanna’s hobby is design of home interior.

Hanna Melnychenko achievements
  • 2007 European Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 10th Pentathlon 4397 pts

  • Universiade Bangkok, Thailand 3rd Heptathlon 5852 pts

  • 2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 14th Heptathlon 6165 pts

  • 2009 World Championships Berlin, Germany 6th Heptathlon 6414 pts

  • 2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 7th Pentathlon 4623 pts

  • Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 10th Heptathlon 6392 pts

  • 2013 European Indoor Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 3rd Pentathlon 4604 pts

  • World Championships Moscow, Russia 1st Heptathlon 6586 pts

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Dated 16  October 2013

 

 

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