Series27 Jan 2014

Work, rest and play – Hanna Melnychenko


Ukraine's Hanna Melnychenko celebrates her heptathlon victory (© Getty Images)

World heptathlon champion Hanna Melnychenko takes our work, rest and play questions.

The Ukrainian finished seventh in the pentathlon at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, but will be looking to improve on that at this year’s edition in Sopot, Poland.


What is your favourite training session?

Hanna Melnychenko: I prefer jumps training because the jumping events were always my favourite since childhood. I don't only mean the technical sessions in high and long jump, but also plyometrics. I also enjoy weightlifting.

What is your least favourite training session?

HM: I hate the monotonous long running sessions. For me, it is easier to run four or five reps of 200m or 300m than just jog for 30 minutes.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

HM: The first thing I love about athletics is the fact it is a very objective sport. All the results are determined by metres, centimetres, seconds and points, and judges have very little influence on results. The second thing I love is athletics is not a nine-to-five job. I can adjust my training schedule with my coach depending on my health and wishes. It gives me a feeling of freedom. The third thing I love about athletics is it has given me the chance to see many interesting places and I have friends all over the world. That counts for a lot.

Where is your favourite training venue?

HM: It is my regular overseas training camp at Monte Gordo in Portugal. We have all the facilities for productive work and recovery.

What is the worst thing about being an athlete?

HM: Injuries. Sometimes they jeopardise success after months and months of hard training.


What is your favourite music to chill to?

HM: Recently I've been listening to the Ukrainian singer Tina Karol. I also listen to a radio station in Ukraine, where the modern music is arranged into a calm, classic style. My boyfriend has an amazing collection of vinyl records and I feel totally relaxed listening to blues music from his collection.

Describe your perfect day without training.

HM: It has to be a late wake-up in a hotel located on a little island by an azure-coloured sea. On one side would be green pine-covered mountains and on the other side would be a white-sand beach and a warm sea. It would be a lazy day of rest with my boyfriend, full of sunshine and nice conversation. Finally, we’d have a romantic dinner by candlelight facing a beautiful sunset. I’m definitely a lucky woman, as I spent a week like that at the end of the 2013 season.

What is your favourite stress reliever?

HM: I like to quietly drive my car and go out for a little shopping. I would only go to maybe two or three shops and buy something for myself.  

If you could pick any other athlete in the world to relax with, who would it be?

HM: Certainly Oleksiy Kasyanov (Hanna's boyfriend and the 2012 world indoor heptathlon silver medallist) because he is the best man in the world and I love him.

Where is your favourite place to relax?

HM: In my living room at home. I like to relax by lolling about on our two big couches chatting, reading books or watching TV.


When did you develop a passion for interior design?

HM: It happened after the 2008 Beijing Olympics when I got a flat. From time to time I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what my own apartment would look like. I wanted to create something special and not be influenced by somebody else's ideas.

What are your three interior design tips?

HM: Choose calm colours when buying furniture, because you will be able to add bright shades anytime, depending on your mood. Don’t overload your home with unnecessary things, especially cumbersome cupboards and wardrobes. Plan a minimalistic living space to make your home look spacious, light and fresh.

What is your favourite design style?

HM: It is modern minimalistic art, like the style of a Swedish hotel. It should be laconic, calm and practical.

You are asked to design Usain Bolt’s lounge….

HM: It would be a spacious hall with a big plasma TV set, and Play Station with massive soft couches and armchairs (big enough to accommodate all his friends). There would also be a futuristic fridge for drinks and a modern music system.

Is there one colour you would never paint your walls?

HM: If we’re speaking about walls in the home, I would never paint them red. It’s very irritating and annoying. I think it’s impossible to rest and relax in such atmosphere.

Steve Landells for the IAAF