AN INTERVIEW WITH ALINA MARUSHCHAK
Alina Marushchak is the first absolute world champion in weightlifting in Ukraine. At the World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she competed in the 81 kg weight category and won all 3 gold medals: in the Snatch, Clean and Jerk, and total. In this article, you will read about her preparation and competing.
Before Alina’s performance, Ukraine hadn’t had any gold medals in women's weightlifting for 18 years. In far 2003, a renowned Olympic champion Nataliia Skakun won the World Championship in Vancouver. Despite becoming a runner-up in the Snatch, Nataliia won gold medals both in the Clean and Jerk and total!
We managed to have a chat with Alina and her coach Volodymyr Bolgaryn right in Uzbekistan immediately after her performance and find out some details about her preparation and competing.
How did the World Championship play out for you?
Frankly, it was hard. It all started with a flight: 5 hours in the plane and a time shift of 3 hours ahead. I didn’t manage to adapt completely and restore my sleeping pattern, so there was still a kind of discomfort.
Since you completed practically all 6 attempts successfully (the 3rd C&J attempt wasn’t counted), did you together with a coach aim to fight for medals?
Yes, that’s right. It was our main goal both during the preparation and competing. My coach Volodymyr Bolgaryn and I were aiming only at the podium, especially at the gold medal. And we did it!
Everyone, who was watching your weight category from the hall, definitely heard those emotional shrieks from the warm-up area. Was it your competitors Australian Eileen Cikamatana and Columbian Valeria Rivas?
I don’t know. I was only with myself. At the competition, there are only me and a barbell, I listen to the coach and that’s all. I never look at the scoreboard or rivals. It’s Volodymyr’s responsibility. We always work this way.
Was the barbell light or heavy this time?
In the Snatch, it felt comfortable and light – I could lift even more, 115 kilos was possible. But the C&J wasn’t that easy.
What happened in the 3rd C&J attempt? (referees didn’t count it)
I went short a little bit. I did my best in the Snatch and slipped up in the C&J. It was a technical mistake.
During your performance, the crowd got really heated and was cheering you up loudly. Was it helping or distracting you?
It was helpful, really fun! When a competition has such vibes, it is really cool! During the last attempts, I even heard some men shouting “Alina, I love you!” But I have no idea who those grooms were)))
What did you see while standing on the World Championship platform?
Honestly, the spotlights are so blinding that you don’t see a thing. I didn’t even try to see anything. You are just staring blankly into the distance and doing your job.
After you have finished the performance, did your coach tell you to wait for 3 more attempts of the Australian athlete?
Yes, my coach was keeping me posted throughout the whole competition about the stage we are at, the next steps to take, and the kilos that I have to lift to fight for the gold.
How did you go through those 3 attempts of the Australian? Were you watching it on the screen and waiting? (She failed all 3 attempts)
The Australian was really serious about the gold too so she decided to attempt the heaviest C&J. That actually wrecked her. I wasn’t watching anything, I was just sitting with my head down and waiting. I didn’t know whether she was lifting easily or not, or whether she failed. I knew that I had already attained our goal, everything else is none of my business.
Compared to the European Championship, where you won the Snatch, you have increased your result by 12 kilos in total. How did you make such progress?
That is all about hard work. I stick to a 5-day training schedule and I have 2 training sessions a day 3 times a week.
What about your training results?
During this preparation, I snatched 115 and cleaned and jerked 145 kilos. In Tashkent, I did 113 in the Snatch and 135 in the C&J. I could lift more but there was no need to do that. Chinese athletes didn’t compete this time because of the pandemic but I think this result would have been enough even if they had been present. Apart from those, all the strongest athletes were performing in Tashkent.
I also squatted 220. I don’t do front squats at all. I know, it may sound staggering. My coach is sure that there is no need for me to do this exercise. If I want to, I can do front squats with up to 70 kilos just as a warm-up to feel the movement and all the angles.
My best snatch is 130 and I also cleaned 150 but I haven’t jerked it yet.
In your opinion, what technical faults do you have to work on?
The whole C&J)))
When cleaning, I get too high in the second pull. In the jerk, I have to improve the angles and work on the drive phase technique. I also have some faults in the catch phase and with the shoulders joint mobility. All in all, the C&J is a “special” exercise for me, I struggle with it! That’s why now, after the World Championship, we will get down to it.
How did weightlifting come along in your life?
I entered Khmelnytskyi Humanitarian-Pedagogical Academy. Poliakov Oleksandr - an Honoured Coach of the USSR - worked there. He’s a legendary person. He has enormous experience and even prepared an Olympic champion of 1988 - Fedor Kasapu. He invited me to a weightlifting gym. I didn’t crave it but decided to try. A week later, I took part in the Region Weightlifting Cup. I won the bronze, then one thing led to another, and here we are.
I started intense training. I had been working with Poliakov for a year and then went to Volodymyr Bolgaryn. The results were growing even faster. I won the first Ukrainian Championship, then the second and the third. After that, the European victory came and now I’m a world champion!
I want to thank all my coaches for their patience and work!!!
Who is your sports role model? (Alina’s coach was sitting right by her side and listening attentively all the time. When we asked this question, he suddenly replied loudly: “It’s me!” Everyone burst out laughing)))
To be honest, I don’t have any. I have neither thought about it nor looked up to anyone.
How long have you been into weightlifting?
4 years and a bit.
Had you done any sport before weightlifting?
Yes, a little bit of wrestling.
Is weightlifting really your thing?
Yes, it is!
How does it feel to be a world champion?
I don’t know, haven’t come to it yet!
(We were talking only 4 hours after the competition)
What about that crazy story that you weren’t included in the national team and weren’t supposed to go to the World Championship?
We had an argument with Yuriy Kuchinov – the head coach of the national team. We refused to go to the training camp 3 months before the championship. For us, it was absurd and pointless. There are no official rules or requirements about coming there so early. We decided to come along a month before the competition just the way it is done in other countries. So we were preparing at home in Khmelnytskyi and, therefore, I wasn’t included in the national team.
How did you manage to compete after all?
The Weightlifting Federation sent us to Tashkent, though we weren't members of the Ukrainian team. The UWF President Oleksandr Gerega solved this problem and fulfilled all the financial needs: equipment, transfer, lodging, and a full board.