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Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Participation in the Olympics is the most significant start in the career of many athletes. It is difficult to perform worthily at the Games and show good results, but it is even more difficult to pave a guaranteed path for yourself to international competitions. The runner Marina Kovaleva dreamed about this for 17 years. And in September of this year, she won the Absolute Moscow Marathon, finally breaking the Olympic standard.

For Kovaleva, performing at the 2020 Games in Tokyo is not just an individual goal. The athlete plans to devote the upcoming start to charity, helping the Love Syndrome Foundation within the Athlete for Good project. Now the girl has organized a fundraiser that will be used to help children and adolescents with Down syndrome.

We met Marina in Moscow at the Cycle for Good charity event, and talked about the development of her sports career, her attitude to the Olympics and future plans in running. Coach Kovaleva, master of sports of international class Boris Zhgir .

You cannot do what you love without passion

- Marina, you have said more than once that as a child you were sickly and far from sports. How did you get to the professional level?

- Everything happened gradually. When I graduated from school, the release from physical education also ended, and in college I had to play for the team. I ran a couple of starts, it started to work out. Then the physical education teacher sent me to the first coach - Olga Dmitrievna Vysotskaya. She instilled a love of running, and I achieved my first successes.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- Perhaps a trivial question: why did you choose athletics?

- This follows from the fact that the first mentor taught me to love running. And the company in training was good. Even running with the girls was always a race. And now it's drawn out.

- What start could you call the most significant and memorable for your entire running career?

- Until this year, my main victory took place in 2010 at the Omsk Marathon. And now - the first place in Moscow. It is much more interesting, more presentable, and the competition in the race is higher. I showed a good result - 2: 29.26.

- In your opinion, what are the three most important components of running?

- Motivation and preparation play a big role. Well, you can't do anything without passion, without love for your work.

- As far as we know, you live in Omsk. How well developed is the running movement in your region?

- Well, we've always had a marathon. But now, unfortunately, the number of participants is decreasing. Perhaps there are many races in other places and people go to other interesting starts. Or in Omsk the competition has become worse. Although recently a memorial was held in the athletics arenaBulatovs, where the athletes showed high results. More than 200 athletes from 16 regions of Russia took part in the competition. I also participate in local events if possible.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: vk.com/moscowmarathon

- As you said, in September of this year you won the Absolute Moscow Marathon. This made it possible to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. How long have you been preparing for this race?

- Participation in the Olympics is the highest point of any athlete's career. And I have been preparing for it for 17 years. Before the September start, I trained since June.

There were moments when I wanted to give up. After graduating from university in 2008, I didn't know what to do: go to work or pursue a running career. I spent eight years as a coach at a sports school, taught children, and it is very difficult with them. There was not enough time for myself and training - the results plummeted. Then I finally decided that running was more interesting for me.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

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Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

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- Most recently, WADA made a decision on the participation of Russian athletes in major international competitions. How did you take this news?

- There is a very difficult situation. But ... we're not getting younger. Perhaps this is generally the last Olympiad in which I can theoretically take part. Our girls are growing up young, competitive. A neutral flag is the only opportunity to go to the Games.

- It is not uncommon for athletes to end their careers after participating in the Olympics. It may be too early to think about it, but how do you see your path in sports after Tokyo?

- I am now studying: I entered the magistracy in order to continue working in sports. I don’t know for sure if I’ll train after the Olympics, but it’s just ahead. We do not think so far.

- It turns out that now you have qualified for the Games by the standards. What remains to be done to get to the start accurately?

- It no longer depends on me. We send documents to the IAAF, they see if the athlete is worthy of participation. He should not be seen using illegal drugs. After many years, we realized that this is a regular lottery. For example, there are two twin brothers who compete in the same competition with the same result. One is allowed, the other is not. What is the principle? Banal luck.

On April 4, the Russian marathon championship will take place in Sochi, where I can prove myself. Ideal conditions for a fast run are expected there.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- After winning the Moscow marathon, you have joined the Love Syndrome Foundation. Why did you decide to help the charitable project?

- Why not? This is a chance to draw people's attention to special children and not engage in abstract charity work, but combine it with what you love. Dedicating an Olympic start to this as an athlete for good is a great opportunity to help .

When an athlete becomes an athlete for good, he must definitely choose a start that he will devote to charity. The next major start for Marina is the Olympic Games. What else can attract public attention and help like a world-class competition?
Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- Each athlete devotes his / her sports challenge to one of the fund's programs for the good, opening his own fundraiser. What is your goal within the project?

- I support the early assistance program for children with Down syndrome. Thanks to the fundraising, families who are already struggling will be able to receive services and specialist visits for free. Even 100 rubles play a role in helping children.

In the Athlete for the Benefit project, you can choose a specific program or support a general collection for developmental and educational programs for people with Down syndrome. For example, the cost of one individual lesson of a child with a defectologist costs the parents 1,560 rubles. The project allows children to receive help for free.

- Your main goal now as an athlete for the good is to collect 100 thousand rubles. Why is it important for an athlete to participate in charity and help people?

- This is important for any person. And for an athlete, this is an additional motivation. This changes your attitude to your usual business and adds meaning to it.

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Boris Zhgir: Marina should be in the top three, which will get to the Olympics

- Boris, tell us when Marina went to the start of the Moscow Marathon , was the goal originally set to get to the Games?

- We planned not just to get to the Olympics, but also to show the result with a margin. The latter could not be done because the weather was not the most comfortable. But we met the minimum program - we mastered the standard.

- Marina saidthat at the start in Sochi the result can be improved. Is it true?

- Yes. The peculiarity of the Sochi race is that it will take place on the track of the Formula 1 circuit. There is good asphalt and no 180 degree turns. Most likely the weather will be great. The likelihood that both Marina and other girls will run quickly is high.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: Polina Inozemtseva, Championship

- How do you feel about the fact that at the Olympics, if allowed, will have to play under a neutral flag?

- Calm down. Because the question of the flag is political. Let the leaders allow it, it is not in our competence. This does not mean that we are not patriots. We will do everything that depends on us: prepare and perform. Naturally, I would like to do this under the flag of Russia. But if we are admitted under neutral, we will go. And those who claim that there is no need to go, let them first choose themselves, and then refuse.

- Recently you were at a training camp in Portugal. How did they go and why does an athlete need them at all?

- It's December. It's warm enough in Moscow, but in Siberia it's minus 19 outside the window. In this weather you can't run too much. And in Portugal the weather is quite comfortable. Marina was running there, turning up the volume.

- Three people will be selected for each Olympic running discipline. What is the competition?

- Of course, Marina is not the only person who can apply for participation. In Russia today, at least 3-4 more girls can fully fulfill the standard. It will be hot in April.

- How do you assess Marina's chances?

- They are high. She has enough motivation, and we have finally found a suitable training method. If there are no problems with health and financing of the preparatory process, then among the three girls who will be selected for the Games, Marina should be.

Marina Kovaleva: I went to the Olympics for 17 years

Photo: vk.com/moscowmarathon

- Do you plan to rebuild your regular training plan for the pre-Olympic one?

- The best is the enemy of the good. Therefore, we will not radically change anything. But special pre-Olympic training is planned. It will most likely take place in the Far East. Athletes will spend the last 3-4 weeks there to be in the same time zone and climate as Japan.

- When will it be known that you will definitely qualify?

- ( Laughs. ) This is difficult! In any case, after April 4 the picture will become clearer. And about obtaining a neutral status - it does not depend on us. Maybe it will be given literally a week before the Olympics, like this year before the World Championships. It's hard to guess now.

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