Iryna tracks golden success for Australia

She doesn't like the nickname “super coach,” but Iryna Dvoskina admits there may be a little genetic magic mixed with the hard work and Ukrainian discipline that has helped her athletes become some of the most successful at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

Each of Ukrainian-born Dvoskina's five athletes have won gold or silver medals at the Bird's Nest in Beijing, establishing new world marks and/or personal bests. Even Aaron Chatman, who spent 10 days of the two weeks leading up to his high jump event in quarantine for the chicken pox.

Newcastle-born Heath Francis has won three gold; Sydney's Evan O'Hanlon has won two, with a shot at another at tomorrow's 4x100m relay; and German-born Christine Wolf has won a gold and a bronze. Chatman and Brad Scott will both go home with silver medals.

Dvoskina's athletes have won six of Australia's eight gold on the track so far, and are the main reason why the nation is the third most successful in athletics so far at this meet. China is first with 39 gold and Dvoskina's homeland of the Ukraine is second with nine gold.

All five athletes train at the Australian Institute of Sport on scholarship programs, and several live at the institute. They obey a strict routine set by Dvoskina, which includes intensive training six days a week, careful diets and a 9.30pm bedtime curfew.

It's a recipe for success that Dvoskina learned during a four year coaching degree at university in The Ukraine, and then developed over a decade as the country's head coach for the Paralympic athletics team.

She moved to Australia in 2002 to be closer to her mother, who is also a coach. At age 73, Dvoskina's mother is still coaching athletes at the NSW Institute of Sport and, ignorring her daughter's protestations, she is still demonstrating drills despite a bad hip.

Each athlete has effusively thanked Dvoskina after their victory, saying it was her tough training regimen that made them bring out their best.

"I am very happy [with my athletes]," she said.

"We did good preparation and tried to put together everything for them. Thank you very much to the Australian Institute of Sport, they paid for all our training camps."

When asked the secret to her success, Dvoskina said: "I have been doing my job for 30 years. I am used to planning and prepare for the best result.

"[My mother] is the biggest inspiration in my life ... maybe there is some genetics. I love my job and I am doing it with love. I love my guys."

But Dvoskina says there is a big difference between attitudes to coaching in Australia and her native Ukraine.

One country takes coaching seriously: the other doesn’t.

"Australian society doesn't think coaching is a real job," she said.

"They think it's a hobby and everyone can do it. To be a coach in the Ukraine, you had to finish four years at the university. Christine came [to Australia from Germany] because she saw my professionalism as a coach.

"The Australian Institute of Sport is one place where athletics coaches can do the job professionally."

Dvoskina's family is passionate about sport - her husband, who used to be the head coach of swimming in the Ukraine, is now coaching at Queanbeyan pool.

With its small budget, Dvoskina is the only overseas coach that Australia has been able to attract to coach athletes with a disability.

However, it has lost several key people, including a former athletics coach and wheelchair basketball coach - to Great Britain, which has splurged the equivalent of A$64.53 million on Paralypmic sport in recent years.

by APC Beijing Media Team
Posted 16/09/2008 12:01 PM

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