Azerbaijan's Hanna Skydan in the hammer at the IAAF World Championships (© Getty Images)
Hanna Skydan improved her own Azerbaijani hammer record to 75.29m earlier this year. Here the European bronze medallist talks about the crucial role her coach Artem Rubanko has played in her career development.
“Artem Rubanko was a top international thrower for Ukraine. He represented his country at three Olympic Games and had a lifetime best of 80.44m. At first he did not want to coach me because he saw it as a big responsibility. Back then he was still competing himself but he saw big potential in me and decided to be my coach in 2011. At that point few people believed that I had a future in the hammer, but I will always value the faith Artem showed in me because he always insisted I could excel in hammer.
“When Artem started coaching me, for the first time I understood what professional sport was all about. I was very excited by the many new exercises he gave me as part of my new regime. It was very hard but also very interesting to have such a good diversity as part of training.
“Over time he has made me stronger and improved my technique. But he is far more than a coach. He is also my psychologist and rehabilitation specialist. He has been like a second father to me. He aided my development as an athlete through quality training and with his hard work and support anything is possible.
“We have long had a good understanding. He can explain to me what I need to do simply with his hand gestures and he provides the inspiration for my great performances like at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku in May when I achieved a national record of 75.29m.
“Today I train with Artem in a small group and try to listen and learn from the wisdom of coaches in terms of both the technical side and strength work. He has given me some great pieces of advice over the years but probably the best has been: if the results do not come immediately, don’t give up. To gain the right results can take time and through patience I can achieve my goals.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF