Alina Shukh produced one of the standout performances of the inaugural European Athletics U18 Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia last summer and the 18-year-old will be in contention for senior honours at the European Combined Events Team Championships Super League in Tallinn, Estonia from 1-2 July.
Shukh set a world U18 heptathlon record of 6186 points to claim gold in the Georgian capital last summer and even though she is still a junior until 2019, Shukh has been making an impression at senior level. At the prestigious Gotzis Hypo Meeting last month, Shukh improved her lifetime best with senior implements to 6106 points - a performance which caught the eye of the Ukrainian selectors.
This will be Shukh’s second senior appearance of the season after competing in the pentathlon at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade this March. Her score of 4550 points - a mark which eclipsed Sweden's Carolina Kluft’s long-standing world U20 record - proved more than sufficient to earn an invitation to compete in the Serbian capital where she finished eleventh.
This will be Shukh's last major test ahead of the European Athletics U20 Championships where she is set to renew her rivalry with Austria's Sarah Lagger and Switzerland's Geraldine Ruckstuhl. Shukh just pipped Lagger in Tbilisi last summer while Ruckstuhl defeated Lagger and Shukh for the world U18 title in Cali in 2015.
Shukh is one of the standout names on an eight strong Ukrainian team which also includes the very experienced Oleksiy Kasyanov. Thirteen years Shukh’s senior, Kasyanov finished second at the last edition of this event in Aubagne two years ago and is a former European senior medallist indoors and outdoors.
Ukraine just missed out on a team medal two years ago in Aubagne but Shukh and Kasyanov will ensure Ukraine will be in contention for both individual and combined honours at the start of next month.