Ukraine’s excellent tradition in the high jump looks set to be extended over the next decade and more not only by reigning world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko but also 16-year-old phenomenon Yaroslava Mahuchikh.
Mahuchikh was untested internationally prior to the IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi last July but she performed with distinction in the Kenyan capital, clearing 1.92m to win the title at the age of 15. Less than a fortnight later, Mahuchikh won gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Gyor, Hungary where Ukraine won three gold medals.
Mahuchikh will return to Gyor this summer for the second edition of the European Athletics U18 Championships from 5-8 July.
When did you start athletics and how did you get into the high jump?
When I was seven, my sister was doing athletics and karate. Our parents offered me the chance to train with her. I didn’t like karate but I liked athletics. To be honest, at that time I didn’t even imagine what athletics was like and what should I do. I started to train in the same group as my sister. I was younger than her and I didn’t train as much - or for as long - as the other children did. Our trainings were like a game at first. We were running and jumping a little bit. It was something like a preparatory phase.
We tried different events at first. We ran flat distances and hurdles, tried long jump. High jump came later. In my first competition I ran 60 metres. I was also competing in long jump as well and when I first started to compete in the high jump I didn’t reach outstanding results - I couldn’t even jump over 1.40m! A turning point came at the Ukrainian Championships when I jumped over 1.55m.
I have concentrated more on the high jump since then and there has been a certain amount of significant success and I have set some records. Now I can say with certainty that I’m completely in love with the high jump. High jump and competitions give me a lot of pleasure.
With a lifetime best of 1.92m, 16-year-old Yaroslava Mahuchikh is one of the favourites for the high jump title at the European U18 Championships.
We found out more about the precocious Ukrainian jumper ahead of Gyor.https://t.co/KsFTGzD9TE pic.twitter.com/b3jahCFOJT
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) May 15, 2018
When you started to train there wasn't any sort of modern stadium in Dnipro. Do you feel the difference today?
When I started to train, everything was interesting for me. I didn’t even know about the big stadiums. Now everything has changed. Our sports school in Dnipro was renovated, the new stadium was opened. We can run and jump there today.
Where do you usually have training camps?
I usually have camps in Ukraine (Chornomorsk, Zaporizhia, Mukacheve), in Turkey and Estonia. All of these camps are very important. We can devote more time to our training. The atmosphere at these training camps is very friendly. At the weekend we usually spend time exploring the city.
Who is your sporting hero and why?
I like watching Mariya Lasitskene. But it is much better if you focus on yourself and move ahead instead of looking at someone else.
So, you are usually concentrating on yourself during the competition?
I try not to look at other athletes because it can distract me. I try to concentrate on competition and on myself, to consider my next steps and to get my mind right.
What is your proudest sporting achievement so far?
My proudest sporting achievements so far is my victory at IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya. My aim was to be part of the Ukrainian team; I was so happy when I qualified. The organisation was great, and the atmosphere in the stadium was amazing! The spectators supported all of us. It was my first serious international competition. I was worried - of course - and I also knew that I had to jump 1.90m. When I jumped for 1.92m my emotions were running high.
What are your expectations at the European Athletics U18 Championships in Gyor?
Actually, I don’t like to look forward. But I know exactly that it should be awesome.
If you weren’t a high jumper, which event would you like to compete in?
I like to run the hurdles.
Away from athletics, what do you like to do?
I had singing lessons when I was little. At school I also painted; there were some additional lessons. I participated in art contests and festivals. I’m still painting now, but not so often. Today there are mostly sketches in a notebook, but not pictures.
Where are you going to study after school?
I’m in the tenth class at the Dnipropetrovsk High School of physical culture. After the eleventh class I want to study at university and to be a coach in the future.
What music are you listening to at the moment, and what is your favourite workout track?
I like different musical genres. What I listen to is often influenced by my mood. There are usually pop tracks of Ukrainian and foreign singers as well as some lyrical songs. I love concerts but I don’t visit them often. Unfortunately I usually have training camps when music stars come to our city but I would like to go to an Imagine Dragons concert.
Do you like literature?
Yes, foreign literature is one of my favourite subjects at school. I like to read everything from the school program and I have an additional list of books I want to read in the near future. I like to read science fiction and detectives. I also like to read about different companies and how they started. I am currently reading a book about Starbucks, “Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time” by Howard Schultz.
Could you imagine yourself as a reality TV star?
I like reality television. I have an idea to start a blog. I wanted to tell about days and free time of athletes, about our trainings and journeys. I’ve even made some videos but I didn’t publish them. Perhaps I will return to this idea in the future?
What is your favourite app?
How can fans follow you on social media?
Instagram: rosya_dp. Facebook: Ярослава Магучих.
Many thanks to Olha Nikolaienko at the Ukrainian Athletic Federation for translating the interview on behalf of European Athletics