After a promising start to her career and a few near-misses as she competed for international titles, Russian high jumper Anna Chicherova established herself as the world’s top woman high jumper by earning gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
Like Father, Like Daughter:
Many elite track and field stars begin by competing in several events – sometimes completely different events than the one they eventually settle into. Not so for Chicherova, who began learning her craft at age 7 from her father, Vladimir Chicherov, a former high jumper himself. Chicherova eventually trained with other coaches, but her early start paid dividends as she progressed in her track and field career.
Chicherova won the high jump gold medal at the initial World Youth Championships in 1999, at age 17. She enjoyed some continued junior-level success over the next few years, but wasn’t satisfied with her progress – and was even thinking about giving up high jumping – but instead she switched coaches and began training with Yevgeny Zagorulko, who’s coached many of Russia’s top jumpers in recent years. Zagorulko helped Chicherova improve her conditioning dramatically. Within six months of joining his team, Chicherova set a Russian record with an indoor jump of 2.04 meters (6 feet, 8¼ inches) in early 2003, then earned a bronze medal at that year’s World Indoor Championships.
Climbing the International Ladder:
After she improved to silver medal status at the 2004 World Indoor Championships, a foot injury hampered Chicherova’s training later in the year. Nevertheless, she still won the Russian outdoor championship and placed a respectable sixth at the Athens Olympics. She won her first major international title as a pro, the European Indoor Championships, in 2005, then became a fairly regular international medalist over the next few seasons, earning silver medals at the 2007 and 2009 outdoor World Championships and finishing third at the 2008 Olympics. She then missed the 2010 season due to the birth of her first child.
Chicherova not only got back into shape following her pregnancy, but she seemed to return better than ever during the 2011 season. She jumped a personal best and national record 2.07/6-9½ on her birthday to win the Russian outdoor championship, then was perfect through 2.03/6-7¾ at the World Championship final to edge defending champ Blanka Vlasic for the gold medal. In 2012 she cleared a Russian indoor record 2.06/6-9 at a meet in Germany, then took the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships. But Chicherova took the big prize that summer, dominating the competition at the London Olympics and winning the gold as the only jumper to clear 2.05/6-8¾.
- Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
- Weight: 126 pounds
- Birth date: July 22, 1982
- Hometown: Belaya Kalitva, Russia
- Personal best: 2.07 meters (6 feet, 9½ inches)