Kasyanovs to target Tallinn on the path to Nanjing

Hanna Kasyanova
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Hanna Kasyanova is targeting a return to global competition at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China

A decade might have passed since the husband and wife duo of Oleksiy Kasyanov and Hanna Kasyanova won their first major medals in the combined events but retirement certainly does not beckon for this illustrious Ukrainian tandem. 

Kasyanov, 34, opened his indoor campaign last week on a promising note with a 7.90 clocking in the 60m hurdles at the Yushko Memorial in Kyiv. This was only 0.09 slower than his lifetime best and his time would have surely been faster if he put together a cleaner race. 

“I knocked down all of the hurdles except for the first one but the fourth was harder and it slowed me down a bit,” he said ruefully. “But my shape is good because here the track is soft and this is not very suitable for me. However, the legs are moving so I can show great results this year. I'm satisfied.”

Kasyanov has won world and European medals in the decathlon but the Ukrainian is particularly renowned for his performances indoors in the heptathlon. His first major medal dates back to the 2009 European Indoor Championships in Turin where he won silver behind Estonia’s Mikk Pahapill which was followed by more silver medals behind the unconquerable world record-holder Ashton Eaton at the 2012 and 2016 World Indoor Championships.

Kasyanov’s first goal this season is to qualify for another edition of the World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China from 13-15 March. To fulfil these aspirations, he will endeavour to produce a qualifying performance at the Tallinn Indoor Combined Events, a European Athletics Indoor Classic Permit Meeting, on 8-9 February.

“There are two more competitions on my schedule: Tallinn on 8-9 February and the Ukrainian Indoor Championships in Sumy on 20-22 February. If I am satisfied with my result in Estonia, then I will compete only in individual events at the nationals. The choice of disciplines would depend on what I need to work the most on,” Kasyanov told the Ukrainian Athletic Federation.

His wife Hanna, the world heptathlon champion in 2013, is also looking to make the Ukrainian team for Nanjing. After giving birth to their first child in March 2018, Kasyanova made a tentative return to competition at the Ukrainian Championships last year and she has aspirations of wearing the national colours in a major event for the first time since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kasyanova has been training with Oleksiy in Portugal during the off-season and she will be competing in the pentathlon in both Tallinn and the Ukrainian Indoor Championships ahead of a prospective appearance in Nanjing.

“As for Hanna, we are putting her preparations into the Ukrainian Championships. She will compete in the pentathlon in Sumy: she has had a big break and needs to feel the competition,” commented Kasyanov.

The Kasyanovs will face a strong Spanish contingent in Tallinn. Oleksiy will face reigning European indoor champion Jorge Urena in the heptathlon and Hanna will face reigning European U18 and U20 champion Maria Vicente, 18, in the pentathlon.