Klochkova, Yana

Klochkova, Yana
▪ 2005

      At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, swimmer Yana Klochkova staked her claim as one of the most dominant and versatile athletes in the history of her sport. The 22-year-old Ukrainian notched victories in both the 200-m and 400-m individual medleys, matching her performance four years earlier in Sydney, Australia. Klochkova thus completed a historic “double double,” becoming only the third swimmer—and the first woman—to have won consecutive pairs of Olympic gold medals in the same events. Another measure of her dominance was the fact that since the Sydney Games she had lost only one individual medley race in major international competition. By the end of 2004, her career medal tally stood at 4 Olympic golds, 1 Olympic silver, 4 world championship titles, and 10 European championship gold medals.

      Klochkova was born into a sports-oriented family on Aug. 7, 1982, in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, U.S.S.R. (now in Ukraine). Her parents had both participated in track and field, and Klochkova, who began swimming at the age of seven, showed tremendous athletic promise. By her mid-teens she was competing internationally, and in early 1998, at age 15, she took silver in the 400-m individual medley at the world championships. At the European championships the following year, she won both individual medleys in addition to placing third in the 400-m freestyle event.

      It was at the Sydney Games, however, that Klochkova fully emerged as an international star and began to be referred to as the “medley queen.” The 1.82-m (6-ft)-tall teenager immediately took command at those Games, breaking a world record in the 400-m medley on the opening night of the swimming competition with a time of 4 min 33.59 sec. She followed up with an Olympic record 2 min 10.68 sec in the 200-m medley, but she had to settle for silver behind American Brooke Bennett in the 800-m freestyle, with a time of 8 min 22.66 sec. In the aftermath of the Games, she was voted Ukraine's Athlete of the Year in a poll of that country's sports media.

      Despite entering the Athens Olympics as the reigning world champion in the medleys, Klochkova faced stiff challenges in both events. In the 200-m final, she won with a time of 2 min 11.14 sec, besting American Amanda Beard by less than six-tenths of a second. In an equally thrilling 400-m final, Klochkova and American Kaitlin Sandeno entered the last turn in a dead heat. The Ukrainian prevailed, however, beating Sandeno by just a hand's length to take the gold in 4 min 34.83 sec. Klochkova received a literal hero's welcome upon her return home, as Ukrainian Pres. Leonid Kuchma awarded the accomplished young swimmer the title Hero of Ukraine—the nation's highest honour. Another honour came her way in December when Swimming World magazine named Klochkova its female World Swimmer of the Year.

Sherman Hollar

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▪ Ukrainian athlete
born August 7, 1982, Simferopol, Ukraine, U.S.S.R.
 Ukrainian swimmer, who in 2004 became the first woman to win consecutive pairs of Olympic gold medals in the same events—the 200-metre and 400-metre individual medleys. Known as the “Medley Queen,” she lost only one medley race in international competition between 2000 and 2004.

      Klochkova was born into an athletic family (both parents competed in track and field) and took up swimming at age seven. She began competing internationally in her mid-teens and took silver in the 400-metre individual medley at the world championships in early 1998. At the European championships the following year, she won both individual medleys in addition to placing third in the 400-metre freestyle event. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, she broke a world record in the 400-metre medley (4 min 33.59 sec). She followed up with an Olympic record in the 200-metre medley (2 min 10.68 sec) and concluded with a silver medal in the 800-metre freestyle (8 min 22.66 sec). Klochkova's gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in the 200 metre (2 min 11.14 sec) and the 400 metre (4 min 34.83 sec) matched her performance at the previous Olympics.

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Universalium. 2010.

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