It is never easy to defend a title but Sergey Shubenkov did that in style at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August.
And his success over the 110m hurdles has been rewarded further with him being named as Russia’s Male Athlete of the Year.
It was quite a triumph, too, for the Shubenkov team because his coach Sergey Klevtsov was awarded the Best Coach of the Year title.
Shubenkov had a fabulous summer, first winning his event at the European Athletics Team Championships in Braunschweig before overcoming his main rivals again with a superb performance in Zurich to triumph in 13.19 from Great Britain’s William Sharman, in 13.27, and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, of France, who was third in 13.29.
It was a culmination of his desire to remain the champion because the Russian just would not relinquish the gold he had won in Helsinki in 13.16 and as he said in Braunschweig: "Pascal is running very well and Sharman is having a good season. It is harder to defend a title because in 2012, I was a young and promising athlete, just rising."
Now he is looking towards next summer’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Shubenkov, 24, who ended the season by winning at the Continental Cup in Marrakech, told to R-Sport news: "It’s a pleasure to know that me and my coach’s achievements were rewarded. Now we have to reaffirm this level. After the victory at European Championships, I’ll strive for the world title."
Mariya Kuchina’s success during 2014 has been outstanding and she was named Russia’s Female Athlete of the Year on the back of winning the world indoor high jump title, taking silver at the European Athletics Championships, along with being first at the European Athletics Team Championships and being the Diamond League and Continental Cup winner.
Kuchina shared her indoor gold in Sopot with Poland’s Kamila Licwinko as they could not be separated after clearing 2.00m and she cleared 1.99m to finish second in Zurich behind Spain’s Ruth Beitia who won with 2.01m.
At 21, Kuchina has established herself as one of the leading athletes in the world with her consistency and was rewarded with the European Athletics Rising Star at the Golden Tracks ceremony in Baku last month.
It was a night of celebration, too, in Bucharest where the Balkan Athletics Gala was staged.
The Male Athlete of the Year was Greece’s Kostadinos Filippidis, the pole vault world indoor champion, with the Female Athlete of the Year being Serbian javelin thrower Tatjana Jelaca, who won silver at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.