In the company of pole coaches, she is always the only woman - at least at the level where medals are played.

Outwardly fragile, like her student, world champion and silver medalist of the Olympic Games in Tokyo Angelica Sidorova.

Together they went their sports path from scratch and the day when the student ends her career will be the last day of Abramova's coaching career.

So she decided...

- Svetlana, offhand, two sports come to my mind in which a female coach is a rare concept, not to say exotic: biathlon and pole vaulting.

Why biathlon?

- Not every woman is ready for several months that there are continuous trainings and starts, to live apart from her family.

Are you really the only one among your track and field colleagues?

- At the top level - yes.

And not only in the country, but also in the world.

Previously, when Anzhelika and I came to the World or European Championships, it happened that one or two female coaches met at the qualification.

In the final - no, there were always only men.

- A woman who, due to circumstances, has entered the professional male field, has to constantly prove that she is no worse, no more stupid, no weaker, finally.

By your smile, I understand that the topic is familiar.


- Constantly.

I'm just so used to it that I don't pay attention for a long time.

I felt the strongest dissonance in 2013, when Anzhelika and I first left for the main team in Gothenburg for the European Winter Championship.

You should have seen the reaction of foreign coaches!

They all sat on the podium one row higher and bored me with their eyes - I felt it, as they say, with my back.

In Russia, everything was a little easier.

Still, I already went through this to some extent, because I was the first woman in the country to start pole vaulting. 

For this reason, I was quite familiar with the entire male coaching department.

But when she herself moved to the status of a coach and the first noticeable successes began ...

- Immediately faced with insane envy?

- Yes.

The same is always felt - in behavior, in gestures, in the desire to prick once again.

It seems that a person is joking, but a joke with subtext.

Is pole vaulting scary or cool?

- Very cool.

I would say that this is not athletics at all.

And something completely different, closer to circus art.

But don't be afraid.

Rather, it's terribly interesting.

Very addictive.

When I started working with children, I periodically told them: “Today is a free attraction.”

And she took the pole in her hands.

- What is it like to teach an athlete to jump five meters when his own personal record is 4.20?

- I was madly happy, by the way, when Angelica blocked my result.

Fear was at the very beginning of his coaching career.

It so happened that I started working as a coach in September 2002, and in November Sidorova came to me.

I came from gymnastics, and, interestingly, from the same coach, with whom I myself studied at one time - Elena Nikolaevna Khakimova.

I was with her in the first set, Angelica in the last.

Children who come to the pole from gymnastics are different: they know how to work, they are focused on the result in a completely different way.

Therefore, from the very beginning I asked myself the question: can I give this girl what she deserves according to her talent and abilities.

At what point did doubt subside?

“Somehow we both immediately realized that we had found each other.

We found a common language, and most importantly, we were in no hurry.

I was just afraid to rush, I was very careful, making some demands.

- Have you ever thought that a more experienced mentor can give your athlete more than you?

- Not.

With Angelica, none of the men's coaches simply would have figured it out.

She is different, not like everyone else.

I can’t even say in one word what her talent is.

It seems to be small, there are no crazy data.

But this is the outer shell.

And inside there is some amazing core that allowed and allows you to show the maximum possible result at the right time and in the right place.

It's like walking on a razor's edge.

And somehow I felt it right away.

Then I began to find features in Angelica that distinguished me.

Perhaps that is why it was always easy for me to understand her.

- Does the above mean that the coaching technique, which works great for Sidorova, may not work at all with another athlete?

— I can't say anything about it.

For the last 16 years I have been working in pole vaulting with the national team's senior coach, and this is my main activity.

- That is, working with Sidorova is just a hobby, an occupation for the soul?

- You can say that.

This is a plus actually.

Because it allows me to be free from some of the requirements that are usually made for personal mentors.

I am not financially dependent on the results of Angelica, I have never had the need to somehow speed up her preparation.

Accordingly, there were no plans to show any result at all costs.

- And how can you work with an athlete if such a task is not set for him?

- Our primary task has always been to raise the quality of the jump, so that every year we can climb a step higher.

The result is just a consequence.

Angelica jumps stably not because she knows how to take a certain height, but first of all because she knows how to jump in general.

- When you started coaching, which of your colleagues were you most focused on?

- To no one.

At first, I tried to copy the methodology by which they trained me - I think all young coaches go through this.

But pretty quickly I saw that this was not good for Angelica.

- But before your very eyes, the same Yevgeny Trofimov trained Elena Isinbayeva for many years.

Didn't you want to borrow something?

Or turn to the experience of Vitaly Petrov and Sergei Bubka?

- More likely no than yes.

The fact is that Angelica's strong point is a technical component.

Everything else - physical qualities, functional - always followed us, as it were, in pursuit.

When we saw that it was impossible to perform some element of the jump, because there were not enough strengths, we began to actively develop specific qualities.

But so that the biomechanics of the jump remain the same.

Are there any male jumpers you admire?

- Everyone jumps so differently and at the same time beautifully that I won’t name any specific names.

What is a beautiful jump?

- Light.

To have a flight.

By the way, although men fly higher due to physical qualities, they do not always jump better.

Some boys absolutely have a lot to learn from some girls.

- In biathlon there was such a Norwegian Halvar Hanevold, who ran contrary to all the laws of biomechanics.

He even got the nickname Crab for his style of skiing.

The three-time Olympic champion, by the way, unfortunately, passed away early.

“Perhaps, we still don’t have people with great technical features.

The "strange" people don't get to a high level in our sport.

- Due to what, in your opinion, did Renault Lavillenie jump so easily, who was the first to break the stereotype of a “small” athlete?

- He felt the pole well, knew how to do a lot with it.

Our species, although called the pole vault, is actually a pole vault.

It seems that the difference is small, but in fact it is global.

It's like walking with a horse or on a horse.

A pole for an athlete is like a fifth limb, and one must be able to use it.

In this regard, by the way, it is immediately clear whether the child will be good or not.

- One outstanding figure skating coach told me that at one time he drew attention to an interesting pattern: as a person walks, so he skates.

All cool rollers walk like hunters.

And those who knock on the floor with their heels do not go, no matter how much you mess with them.

- For me, it is paramount that the child has intelligent eyes.

After all, what is a jump?

This is a picture that is made up of many very small puzzles.

All these details are worked out in training, but the athlete himself puts them into the picture.

Therefore, it is very important how a person communicates, how he "hears" the coach, how he assimilates information, what and how he says.

From this, to a very large extent, its result depends.

- Your profile says that you are a PhD, and you received your degree while already working with might and main as a coach.

Feel like you need it to work?

- While I was in graduate school, along the way I entered the second institute and received another higher education - a psychologist.

It helps a lot in our sport.

As for the dissertation, it was devoted to the principles of teaching the technique of the pole vault, but it was built on the basis of my diploma, obtained just at the second institute - there is a lot of psychology there.

- Over the years that I have been watching big sport from the outside, I have met a situation many times when an athlete loses only for the reason that he did not believe the coach in time.

Sidorova, in a conversation with me, mentioned that you convinced her of the reality of a five-meter jump for several years before this height was taken.

And she said, by the way, that now she no longer dreams of breaking the world record - she does not consider it real.

Do you agree?

- Not.

Angelica definitely has not yet said the last word in athletics, she has something to add, and she can do it.

In other words, the task of reaching record heights is not supernatural for her.

- How quickly do you plan to implement it?

- Planning in our situation is such a shaky business.

- Understand.

But I asked because at one time both Sergey Bubka and Yelena Isinbayeva raised their centimeter records, confident that at the right time they could add at least ten.

And both, at the end of their careers, were faced with the fact that the train left, and the result that could have remained for centuries never happened.

- We cannot argue from the position of “someday”, because this “someday”, given the age, is already very close.

It's just really hard to plan.

In 2019, when Angelica became the world champion for the first time and was on a big emotional upsurge, a pandemic happened.

Then there was a period when we did not understand at all whether we would go to the Games in Tokyo or not.

After the silver, we have already set ourselves up to go through another Olympic cycle, since it is short.

When Angelica jumped 5.01, the rise seemed to start again, but what happened happened.

And now everything is shaky again.

- Did the fact that the Tokyo Games were postponed for a year make your preparation difficult?

On the contrary, it has become a huge plus.

Otherwise, we simply would not have got to Tokyo due to suspension.

- At what point did the mistake occur that led Angelica to silver, and not to gold?

- It was a complex story that lasted for six months before the Games.

Issues related to organizing the departure and participation of Russian athletes in the Games were resolved extremely slowly, we had to constantly connect.

I tried to hide all this hassle from Angelica as much as possible, but she still felt it.

Plus, through no fault of our own, we spent a little time in the village.

We chose the lesser evil: otherwise we would have had to fly to Japan close to the start.

- So Sidorova just burned out?

— Not exactly burned out, but she always gets very tired of the monotony.

In fact, I have no complaints about her Olympic performance: she did the maximum of what she was capable of that day.

Also on "To keep the paws intact": Shubenkov on priorities for the season, unwillingness to quarrel, Coe's tricks and the romance of hurdling

- A purely everyday question: do you carry your poles to competitions yourself, or does someone help?

— Sami.

We are accustomed, firstly, not to depend on anyone, and secondly, since we are working with men on an equal footing, we should not wait for someone to offer their help.

Sometimes it happens, of course, but very rarely.

There are no problems in this.

Angelica's usual competitive rebound is seven poles.

20 kilograms.

“About forty years ago I heard a heartbreaking story, how the poles flew to a tournament in New Zealand, in Auckland they boarded a tiny plane and upon arrival they found that the poles were sawn in half and neatly packed.

It turned out that they did not fit into the luggage compartment, and the airline decided to deal with oversized cargo at its own discretion.

— In those days, it could well be, by the way.

- Losing poles - a disaster?

Or are there alternatives?

- You can replace it, but it’s better, of course, to jump on your own.

All poles work differently even when they are the same in performance.

Everyone needs to get used to it.

- Age athletes are almost always afraid of the moment of leaving the sport.

Are you afraid of the moment when Angelica will make such a decision?

And do you ask yourself the question: “She will leave - and then what?”

- Then I will also leave coaching.

I won't go to this circle for the second time.

I do not want.

- Too hard?

- Not.

But repeating would be boring.