Lasitskene: "The person who does the magic things is my coach"

Mariya Lasitskene
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Mariya Lasitskene embraces her coach Gennidy Gabrilyan after winning her third successive world high jump title in Doha

By clearing 2.04m with her first attempt at the Khalifa International Stadium on 30 September, Mariya Lasitskene became the first female high jumper to complete a superb hat-trick of World Championships gold medal

She came to Doha being a strong favourite in the field despite only finishing third at the historic first meeting at The Match between Europe and the United States, three weeks before the major athletics event of the year. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old Russian, who performs internationally as Authorised Neutral Athlete, has lost only three times since 1 July 2016, which looks like a drop in the ocean compared to her 70 victories during that period.

“An athlete must have a huge mix of attributes to become successful: strong character, good breeding, workability, assiduity and talent,” said her coach Gennadiy Gabrilyan. “Mariya has every one of these streaks."

Talking about athletes’ talent, we often treat coaches unfairly but Lasitskene is one of those athletes who always redirects to her coach all questions about technical points, preparation and future plans. “I never take care about that. It’s not my business. The person who does the magic things with me is my coach," said Lasitskene.

Gabrilyan, who started to work with Lasitskene 18 years ago, said: “I’m following my new system for many years. When we speak about learning of new technical or kinetic movements, I try to put all necessary information into the athlete’s subconsciousness, escaping their mind and consciousness. I know, it’s difficult to understand because this topic lies deep in the scientific area."

“Nowadays scientists know only two ways to do that. The first one is natural - it is when younger people imitate older ones. The second way is the use of hypnotism. But I managed to find a third way, the one I said above, which is quite unique. I’m dreaming to continue the development of my training system and to use it not only in high jump training, but in all athletics events and even in a general educational system, despite the fact that my method comes into conflict with the widely accepted training and educational system.

“Teachers and coaches always ask their pupils to be attentive and to think seriously about everything they do. But in my opinion, all information that has been passing through athletes’ mind will be recorded into the subconsciousness, being already distorted. When athletes need to get it out, destroyed information works first and foremost. That is why athletes make a lot of kinetic mistakes, especially in stressful situations during competitions. Many athletes explain their failures by nervous conditions or some kind of fear they got while competing.

“I strongly believe athletes must be stressed. They must understand the highest level of responsibility when they represent their country at international level. Speaking about Mariya, I can say that she’s always afraid of how things will go, how high she will jump. Fears and anxieties are the main things that help you achieve really fantastic results. My job is to turn her fears in the right direction. I named this effect ‘real dynamic stereotype of motor skills.’ These dynamic stereotypes are easier to set up if we don’t try to involve the athlete’s mind into the process.

“If you ask Mariya on how she jumped or which technical mistakes she made, she would answer ‘I don’t know’ and she is always right. She doesn’t need to think in which way she has to implement every technical detail. She just must implement her coach’s guidelines and instructions.

“Mariya never knows what result she is capable of. I never put limits on her. Regardless of whether we are in a small meeting or in big competitions, we always have some doubts. Why? Because we never jump higher than 1.85m in practice even if this is the usual opening height for Mariya in competitions. And you know what? I’m always confident watching Mariya’s jumps, but at the same time I’m always scared.

“My training system is the system of reactive-inertial motions. She doesn’t have even one active motion in her jump, but only reactive-inertial ones. It is easier to explain like a principle of ‘stretch – loosen’. That is why Mariya never needs massage for recovery as inertial motions work like self-massage. After every competition, even if it lasted a long time, it was exhausting and really tough, Mariya always has fresh feet, knees and hip joints. 

“She never takes dietary supplements, vitamins and remedies for recovery. Her food is natural as much as possible.”

Liudmyla Iakusheva / Doha 2019 LOC