9 May 2011
Athletics Australia Annual Awards
Last month Athletics Australia held their athlete of the year awards and a number of NSW people were honoured.
Fabrice Lapierre was named the male athlete of the year, mainly on the strength of his Commonwealth games long jump win and an international season which saw him ranked number three in the world. Just prior to last season he also won the World Indoor title. Central Coast thrower, Stuart Gyngell, was awarded the Edwin Flack medal for his long service to the sport which started in the ‘80s before he represented Australia at the 1986 Commonwealth games. Fira Dvoskina was named Junior coach of the year (see profile below) and Athletics Australia life membership were awarded to Max Debnam, Penny Gillies, Jackie Byrnes and David Tarbotton.
Coach Profile – FIRA DVOSKINA
Fira Dvoskina may have only arrived in Australia 15 years go, but she has in that short time made a significant impact on hurdling and sprinting in our country.
Last month she was named Athletics Australia’s Junior coach of the year, mainly on the back of her success coaching Steven Solomon, 17, who just hours earlier had won the national open 400m title. A week later she celebrated 10 years since she had coached Andrew Pym to the riches footrace in Australia, the 2001 Stawell Gift. Now aged 76 years of age she continues coach athletes at all levels. Her story also highlights how the profession of coaching operates in other countries.
Esfir Dvoskina was born in a small Belorussia town Capatkevichi in 1934 (September 20). When the second World War broke out in 1941, her family moved to the centre of Russia for four years, but when they returned to Capatkevichi after the war, it had been bombed and had virtually disappeared. In 1945 the family decided to settle in the Ukraine/Polish border city of Lvov.
She meet her future husbane Boris Dvoskin who was a member of the Soviet Union national team. He was selected in the 4x400m relay for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, but didn’t go to the games. He ran 48.4 for 400m, a time which placed him in the European top-15 during that era. Away from the track, he was an engineer in an Iron factory. Boris and Fira married in 1957 and Fira settled in Boris’ hometown of Dnipropetrovsk in south-east Ukraine.
Fira was herself a fine athlete and ran 12.1 for 100m, she was also a good gymnast and fencer. In 1957 she completed her four year coaching degree at the University of Physical Culture and Sport (in Lvov). For the next 38 years, Fira was a fulltime athletics coach in several sports schools, sporting clubs and national centres of Olympic preparation. During her career, she coached many fine Soviet and Ukrainian athletes including:
· Goncharenko Galina 100m hurdles junior Soviet Union record holder in 1963 with a personal best of 13.0 for the 100m hurdles in 1973.
· Evgeni Baralei a Soviet Union 4x400m team member from 1973 to 1976 and winner of a leading international competition “Znamenski” in 1974 in 400m with a time of 46.80.
· Evgeni Oleshko a member of the junior Soviet Union team in 1976 with sprint personal bests of 100m 10.45 and 200m 20.90
· Zoya Voitenko a member of Soviet Union team from 1976 to 1981 with a personal best 100m of 11.40
· Motina Alla a member of Ukrainian team from 1981 to 1987 in the 100m hurdles clocking a personal best of 13.00.
After her a long career of coaching and travelling with the national team, she retired in 1995. Life for elderly people was tough in the Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Fira’s had relatives in Australia, including her older sister so she and Boris moved to Sydney in 1996 to retire. But it wasn’t long before she was back into coaching. She started assisting national sprints/relays coach Michael Khmel, a former Russian sprinter. His squad included Matt Shirvington, Pat Dwyer (400 44.73), Daniel Batman (200 20.78), Casey Vincent (400m 45.36) and many others. She assisted Tongan athletes and was their national coach at the Sydney Olympics. She also coached Debbi Edwards to the Sydney Olympics in the 100m hurdles (pb 13.20). She also coached at St Ignatius college and one athlete she developed was Andrew Pym. A good junior sprinter, Pym also ran Athletics League meets, including the Stawell Gift. Fira coached Pym to victory in the coveted race in 2001.
Over the next decade, Fira coached dozens of sprinters and hurdlers. She guided Justin Merlino, no standout as a junior athlete to clock 13.55 in the hurdles – as he became the second fastest in Australian history. Last year she co-coached with Larry Spencer, Mitch Tysoe to the final of the World Juniors and this year has Jack Edwards going to the Commonwealth Youth Games in Europe.
But her undoubted coaching highlight in recent years has been the development of Steven Solomon. Last month he became the seventh youngest ever male Australian champion across all events, when, aged 17, he won the national 400m time defeating most members of the Australian 4x400m relay team which in recent years have won Commonwealth Games gold and World Championships bronze. A 50 second 400m runner 18 months ago, Solomon will compete at the World Championships this year in Daegu. A good sprinter/hurdler/ jumper at Cranbrook school, Solomon joined Fira’s squad at the encouragement of 400m hurdler James Roff, who coached Solomon at school. Initially Solomon ran 400m hurdles, but hurdle height changes, some minor injuries and lack of strength due to his young training age, have currently send him the direction of the 400m.
Some other athletes Fira has coached in recent years include: Greg Eyears (current national 110m hurdles champion), Robert Marks, Ray Smith, Rachel Hardy, James Roff, Chamath Herath and Jacob Holt.
In 2003, Fira’s only child, Iryna Dvoskina joined her in Australia. Iryna, a leading coach in Ukraine, now coaches at the AIS in the AWD program.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Thanks to Iryna Dvoskina for help with this profile.
Image: Fira Doviskina (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)