Svetlana Shkolina at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature Moscow, Russia

Cheering crowd and winning relay inspires Shkolina

Motivation can come in many forms, even for World champions.

For Svetlana Shkolina, four fellow Russian women rushing to a gold medal in the 4x400m Relay and a cheering home crowd that brought them home provided the spark the high jumper needed to equal her personal best of 2.03m and claim her first IAAF World Championships title on Saturday.

"It was so loud," said the London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist.

"I felt so much motivation. It was really nice to hear this crowd roaring. It really turned me on and I realised it was time to jump. I had this inner feeling I was going to clear this height (2.03m)."

The premonition came true as the 27-year-old soared over the bar on her first try.

When the US silver medallist Brigetta Barrett, who had beaten her for second place in London, missed three times at the height, the title was Shkolina's.

To say the championship came easy, though, would be wrong.

Until the 2004 IAAF World Junior Championships silver medallist made the winning height she had been trailing Barrett after a first-attempt miss at 1.93m put her behind the flawless American.

Nerves, she said, almost got the better of her.

"At that first attempt at 1.93m I was so nervous," said Shkolina. "When I stepped out on the stadium I saw my parents and my friends. I was so just jittery, I was so stressed out."

But maybe it was good she failed, Shkolina implied.

"Starting from that height I could put myself together. My coach said, 'Please calm down, it is going to work fine for you'." she said.

"I listened to him and I am really pleased that I could get my act together. It has been really hard on me, especially waiting for the final."

Her coach knows what he is talking about, as he’s none other than Sergey Klyugin, the 2000 Olympic Games champion, who also coaches 2012 Olympic Games men’s gold medallist Ivan Ukhov.

To add to the joy of Russia winning the 4x400m Relay while her competition was still underway, Shkolina said she wanted to shatter her personal best with tries at 2.05m.

"But I was too overwhelmed. I couldn't get myself together," said the new World champion who missed twice at 2.05m before calling it a day and foregoing her final attempt. "I was just too overwhelmed."

Fifth in the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, and sixth two years before that in Berlin, Shkolina had been overlooked by many entering the Moscow meeting.

Most expected Russia's Olympic and former World champion Anna Chicherova – who was to eventually finish equal third - and Barrett to be the event's star attractions after Blanka Vlasic's withdrawal, despite Shkolina’s unbeaten record in three previous high-level outings this summer.

"Dreams (do) come true!" reflected a delighted Shkolina.

Gene Cherry for the IAAF