Hanna Melnychenko, Heptathlon World Championship: An Epitome of Beauty and Fitness
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
“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.
“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
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
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
“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
Yet 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
World Championships Moscow, Russia 1st Heptathlon 6586 pts
Dated 16 October 2013