The six-day marathon of the Ukrainian Diving Championships (UDC) concluded last Saturday successfully, marking the end of the calendar year in sports. More than 80 athletes from 9 regional centers of Ukraine took part in the competition, not the least of which were the national athletes.
On the first day, divers from the city of Mariupol, Nika Shurda and Stanislav Oliferchik, triumphantly completed their performance in the Mixed Team Event with a score of 350.35 points, earning them the gold medal. Shurda shared previously of her incredible desire to return to the “big dives” in this competition and return she certainly did – in style.
In second place came young representatives of Kyiv, Anna Arnautova and Kirill Bolyukh, with 335.80 points. Representatives of Zaporizhzhia, Oleg Serbin and Victoria Kesar, came in third with 304.30 points.
The second day of competition saw new champions proclaimed in the Women’s Platform and the Men’s 3m Springboard individual events.
Besting her competitors in the Women’s Platform was Ksenia Bailo, who scored 305.65 points. Fellow Kyiv-based diver, Karina Glyzhina (239.25), took the silver while the bronze medal went to Donetsk region’s representative Alexandra Levitskaya (238.85).
Bailo’s mentor Ilya Tselutin shared this about the performance of his athlete:
“I am satisfied with the result since the sum of points that Ksenia gained means already getting into the semifinals at the World Cup. As long as she is preparing to get a second stint in the Olympics, this result is worthy. So far, the DD is not so high, and we hope that at the Ukrainian Cup in February, Ksenia will show one more dive with a coefficient of 3.2. Then the difficulty will already be competitive for winning a qualification. Back in October, Ksenia performed worse than these dives, and now we see high marks. The work is going on. The result is improving, the amount of points is increasing.”
Later on, Oliferchik notched his second gold in the championships ending up with 374.95 points in the Men’s 3m Springboard. In second place was Mikolaev’s Danil Konovalov while Luhansk region’s Vladislav Klimko (350.00) was third.
Asked about his thoughts about his performance and the championships, Oliferchik shares: “Basically, as for the first competition in the last nine months – I’m happy with the result. However, at this UDC, I did not show my maximum result. I know that I can do better. We all have something to work on (everyone knows for himself what exactly). I hope we will come up to the World Cup in great shape, and we will get the remaining slots for the Olympic Games. Regarding the championship itself, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the lighting in the pool (it became noticeably brighter), which was usually much darker. It was just as pleasant to watch the performances of Evgeny Naumenko and young Kirill Bolyukh”.
On the third day of the UDC, the champion of Ukraine in a Men’s Platform was proclaimed. This was a familiar face though as Evgeniy Naumenko of Zaporizhzhia defended his crown with a record of 408.85 points.
Naumenko bested the European champion Oleksii Sereda who performed two new dives as he had planned (cited in the article earlier) on his way to 381.95 points.
Oleg Serbin, a medalist in the European Diving Championships 2019, came in third with 341.75 points but his participation raised more questions than Sereda’s runner-up finish. Asked about his sudden participation, Serbin shares that “Initially, I would not compete in these competitions because I was injured, and I was not allowed to train for three weeks. I started training one week just before the start of the competition itself. This explains my poor performance and why I was not in good shape. Partly I am satisfied with the result, especially because I made two dives of 8 points each. I want to highlight my partner Naumenko. He is a handsome man. He made the dives more difficult (instead of 107b, 109c), and he won the championship. I also want to mention Oleksii Sereda – although he grew up and gained weight, nevertheless he performed well and showed new dives”.
An Unpredictable 2020!
Unlike the previous events, the battle for gold in the Women’s 3m Springboard was tight. Victoria Kesar of Zaporizhzhia and Anna Arnautova of Kyiv went neck and neck through each round. As the dust settled, with a difference of less than half a point, Kyiv’s sixteen-year-old wonder celebrated the victory, collecting a record amount of 313.05 points for herself. On the other hand, Kesar managed to score 312.70 points.
“I was delighted not because I came first, but because I was able to dive off my program for a decent amount of points. After all, there have been different cases, particularly for me, when you take the first place on the podium and realize that this is a bad performance. Judging by these dives, Viktoria showed her stability, as in the preliminary and in the final part, she performed with the same amount of points. I raised the mental bar for myself, which I will now have to adhere to.” shared Arnautova about the competition.
In third came an unexpected competitor in Luhansk region’s Taisiya Cherednichenko, who, after many years of performing in the water show, decided to return to the “big sport.”
Elated with her performance, she relates her experience by saying that “2020 is unpredictable! It all started due to quarantine since I did not fly back to work in the show. Having stayed in Ukraine, I understood that I didn’t want to lose my sports shape because everyone knows how much effort and energy it takes to get together and show beautiful dives again. So I decided to return to training, let’s say, in the “second home pool”, only this time in Kyiv (the “first home” is in Lugansk).
Of course, I put together a low DD program because it was important for me to dive and have fun, and to know that my body is not under stress. I did not participate in competitions for about two years, but even after such a break, although there were corresponding experiences, in general I felt calm. I fulfilled the task for myself when I showed up for these competitions. But the “bronze gift” undoubtedly pleased me! A competition, not with everyone, but with myself, because I know I can do better! Thanks to the coaches Tamara Tokmachova and Illya Tselutin, who were able to train and prompt me.”
Leaders Continue to Dominate
Oliferchik continued to dominate the championships as he won his third gold medal in four days. In the Men’s 1m Springboard, he registered 354.35 points to beat Luhansk region’s Ilya Trushin (340.40) and Nikolaev’s Daniil Konovalov (312.20).
In the Women’s 1m Springboard, Arnautova did not have problems racking up 263.30 points to finish first, her second gold in as many days. Shurda (224.50) and the young Karina Glyzhina of Kyiv (217.90) rounded out the podium.
Despite the loss to Arnautova, Shurda took things in the broader perspective. “I think I could have done much better as an individual. I drew conclusions, discussed everything with the coach, and realized what needed to be changed and added. I am pleased to win the Team Event, especially since I also fulfilled the Master of Sports standard, wow! I am satisfied that I am starting to perform with new dives more confidently. We will be working on the technique and preparing for the next competition, which will be in February”.
The day of synchros
On the fifth day, there were four synchro finals in the UDC 2020. The first event of the day, the Men’s Platform Synchronized, had the tandem of Oleksii Sereda & Kirill Bolyukh rack up 341.40 points to best Daniil Avanesov & Vladislav Klimko of Luhansk region’s 336.27 points, and Daniil Gorenko & Daniil Mokretsov of Kharkiv region’s 267.39 points.
Despite the outcome, Seredra was not satisfied. “I am not very happy with my dives. It takes more time to get in synchro with Kirill and return to my shape. In general, we have something to work on.”
In the Women’s 3m Springboard Synchronized, an experienced duo of Anna Pismenskaya & Victoria Caesar celebrated the victory with 266.67 points. They easily ruled over Mariupol’s Nika Shurda & Alexandra Levitskaya (232.56) and Kyiv’s young tandem of Ekaterina Mostovenko & Karina Glyzhina (219.69).
While Pismenskaya shared her plans before the UDC, Kesar assessed her performance in the event noting that: “I am generally satisfied with the result of my performances both individually and in sync, but honestly, I have something to work on. It was the first competition after a long break, I wanted to perform all without rough blockages, and I did it. We all have the ultimate goal for 2021 – the Olympic Games. And that’s where we all strive to get.”
The evening events began with the Men’s 3m Springboard Synchronized where favorites Oleksandr Gorshkovozov & Oleg Kolodiy of Lugansk region did not disappoint in notching 387.72 points to finish first. Meanwhile, the newly formed duo of Stanislav Oliferchik & Evgeny Naumenko of Mariupol and Zaporizhzhya, respectively, scored 346.41 points in an impressive runner-up debut performance. Coming in at third, with 320.85 points, was the young Kirill Bolyukh & Vladislav Klimko of Kyiv and Lugansk region, respectively.
Gorshkovozov shared some of his impressions about the UDC.
“I am not very pleased with the result, but I feel that I am getting in good shape, and this makes me happy. The UDC result did not affect my plans in any way. I previously shared them with the audience. The main goal for this championship was completed. We performed and felt a competitive atmosphere. Then we will move according to the plan.
Among all the athletes, Anya Arnautova stood out a lot. The athlete showed a very high diving performance class and a record amount of points for herself.
The team has great potential. Many young athletes are significantly improving their diving quality. I think soon they will compete abroad very well. I want to wish myself and my colleagues in the national team not to slow down, keep in shape before and after NY, and gain momentum. It was also nice that there was an online broadcast and there was an asset on live broadcasts and social networks.”
The night concluded with a gold medal performance in the Women’s Platform Synchronized by Kyiv’s Sofia Lyskun & Ksenia Bailo. The tandem, who only teamed up for the first time in this UDC, collected 260.28 points which was enough to beat Mariupol’s duo of Alexandra Levitskaya & Nika Shurda (221.22) and Kyiv’s other tandem of Maria Kravchuk & Valeria Kozhushko (209.94).
Mixing it up!
On the sixth and final day of the competition, two medals were at stake, both of which were mixed disciplines, the 3m Springboard Synchronized Mixed and Platform Synchronized Mixed events.
Victoria Kesar & Stanislav Oliferchik confirmed their status as European champions in the springboard with 284.34 points. The second place went to Anna Arnautova & Vladislav Klimko (Kyiv, Lugansk region) with 255.36, and the third place was taken by the young athlete from Kyiv, Diana Karnafel & Mark Barsukov with 223.32 points.
In the final event of the UDC, the Platform Synchronized Mixed saw youth hopefuls from Kyiv, 13-year-old Kirill Bolyukh and 15-year-old Ksenia Bailo, became winners gaining 301.32 points. Luhansk region’s Andrey Telebzda & Alina Babaeva (224.46) rose to second place, and Daniil Gorenko & Polina Sinitsa of Kharkiv region (185.88) took third place.
Zest of the Championship
In addition to the phenomenal comeback of showgirl Taisia Cherednichenko, it was interesting to note that the current coach from Vinnytsia, Valery Rozbitsky, took part in the UDC as an athlete (he is also a judge)!
Naturally, this issue was hard to ignore. When asked what he thought about this, Rozbitsky related that “I’ll tell you how I was “lucky” to take part in the UDC. Everything is straightforward. The fact is that my work as a coach is intertwined with my hobby – diving. I can’t turn over for a long time “over my head in a gymnastic style.” Due to the lack of access to the pool in our city, I could not properly prepare my athletes for participation in this championship. I decided to support them in some pair types of programs personally.
There was another option for them to find partners from other cities of the participants, but I was ashamed to do it for the above reason. According to the plan, we had only one workout in a suitable pool for the competition, and no one knew how it should “go” there. Honestly, I asked not to send our team to these competitions, knowing how hard it is for us. However, the boss did not accept my rejection. So, I found myself back on the sports arena after more than ten years of break in competitive practice.”
National Coach’s Opinion
Asked about the six-day championship results, Ukrainian national diving team head and senior coach, Tamara Tokmachova, shared with us her assessment of the UDC.
– What pleasantly surprised you at UDC, and who could you single out?
– “I was pleasantly surprised that many young talented athletes coped with the task. One of them is Kirill Bolyukh among boys and Ksenia Bailo among girls. Together, by the way, having won the platform mixed event, they showed a high amount of points. With it, they can claim medals at the regular European Diving Championships. I was also pleased with Kirill Azarov in individual, and Anya Arnautova, and Vladislav Klimko in mixed springboard. they still need one more dive in their program, but the perspective is visible. Anya also made me happy in the individual events. If she dives in the World Cup as well as she did in the UDC final, she has an excellent chance to get a slot in the Olympic Games.”
– What unpleasantly surprised you and what did you not expect to see?
– “I was unpleasantly surprised that the coaches who work in the regions do not prepare athletes for the platform. Therefore, we have little competition on the platform for both boys and girls. I was also disappointed by the synchronous pair Bogdan Chizhovsky & Danil Konovalov, who are preparing for the European Championships and the World Junior Championships. They lost to a much younger synchro pair Bolyukh & Klimko.”
– What do you think about the team’s future, looking at the results of this UDC?
– “Regarding the team’s future, a good change is emerging – young and talented athletes of the diving school in Kyiv, the LIKO DIVING SCHOOL, showed themselves the best way at these competitions. Of course, I would like other sports schools to catch up, especially regional ones. If they change the system of training athletes and the methodology of work, then the result will certainly be visible. It is noticeable that many coaches are still working the old fashioned way. In general, the competition was smooth. Even though the judges were not come due to some reasons, the coaching staff coped perfectly with the task of judging.”
Three Generations Participated
The senior coach of the national team, Ilya Tselutin, also summed up the UDC claiming:
“It was nice to see three generations participating in the competition at once – an adult team that is just getting into shape, young divers who complicated and “cleaned up” the program, and, ultimately, children who just want to get to the final! At this championship, each athlete had his tasks – someone who needed to get into shape faster, someone who wanted to try a complicated program, someone who wanted to stabilize their program, and gaining record points. A unique atmosphere reigned at the championship, as everyone missed the competition very much!”
On my behalf, I would like to add that this Ukrainian Diving Championships was incredibly desirable and long-awaited. In the world we live in, where all events, in one way or another, depend on COVID-19 and the restrictions associated with it, the Federation of Ukraine on Diving managed to hold a bright sporting event, which will remain in the memory of many as one of the most challenging. Well, sports4world.com will remember this article about a rare 2020 sports event in the world of diving.
Edited by Aldo Tong.