Kuchina's on the hunt for more medals

Kuchina's on the hunt for more medals
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Russia's Mariya Kuchina was crowned European indoor champion in Prague this year and won silver at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich last summer.

In the past four years, at the last five major championships she has competed in, Mariya Kuchina’s record has been this: gold, bronze, gold, silver, gold. Impressive stuff, particularly as she is only 22.

It is the first of those medals that might have an extra resonance for the Russian high jumper when she competes at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tallinn next month.

Not only will the organisers have quite a star at what should be a superb four days in the Estonian capital, but Kuchina will be returning to the city and the Kadriorg Stadium where she became European junior champion in 2011.

See highlights of the high jump contest from Tallinn 2011 below:

Then she cleared 1.95m, and now she is a rock-solid favourite with some justification having taken her outdoor personal best to 2.00m last summer.

It was the second highest clearance of an outdoor season where in Zurich she finished second at the European Athletics Championships - with 1.99m as Spain’s Ruth Beitia won with 2.01m - having also shared gold with Poland’s Kamila Licwinko at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot a few months before that.

The next stop-off point was Prague in March this year and the European Athletics Indoor Championships where she once more delivered by winning  the title with 1.97m, on countback from Italy’s Alessia Trost.

Mariya Kuchina was named the 2014 European Athletics Rising Star for all her achievements last year.
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Mariya Kuchina was named the 2014 European Athletics Rising Star for all her achievements last year.

Now, between July 9-12, the spotlight of the sport will focus on Tallinn and for Kuchina, an opportunity to tick off another major honour, back in a place she knows well.

The 2012 world junior bronze medallist finds herself in the enviable position of becoming a podium regular and the Under-23 Championships from 9-12 July are playing a big part in a year where she wants to make her mark at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing at the end of August.

Of Tallinn, her coach Gennadiy Gabrilyan told the R-Sport news agency: "It is a great opportunity to accomplish her duty with credit and to take the event as an important part of her preparation for Beijing."

It is quite an achievement to medal at every major event but the way Kuchina's career is going, she is doing just that.