Athlete of the Month – January 2020
Ukrainian Olena Buryak is a World Rowing Cup and European Championship medallist. But she’s really made her mark off the water. Buryak is the fastest woman indoor rower in the world – she’s both the reigning indoor World Champion, World Urban Games winner and the World Record holder over 2000m with a time of 6 minutes and 22.8 seconds. She tells us about how she approaches racing on the land.
World Rowing: Why did you first start rowing and why do you keep rowing?
Olena Buryak: I started rowing at 11 because I wanted to try anything. More than 20 years on, I do it because I can! It’s my inspiration - to feel and to see emotions at the finish line.
WR: What is the achievement you are most proud of?
OB: My best achievement is qualifying for the Rio Olympic Games. My team got in on the last chance after only 12 weeks of preparation.
WR: Where are your favourite places to train?
OB: Mykolayiv (my home) and Sabaudia (Italy).
WR: Where are you favourite places to race?
OB: Lucerne (Switzerland) and Munich (Germany).
WR: When did you first realise you were very good at indoor rowing?
OB: Well, I was 15 and did the 2000m test better than my rowing friends. At 19 I became a champion and the Ukrainian record holder and at 23 decided to compete in the international arena – it was only there I understood: well, I’m not bad on the erg!
WR: How do you prepare for an indoor competition differently from an outdoor one?
OB: Usually I don’t prepare for it - I just add some short and fast distances to my training.
WR: What is going through your mind in an indoor race?
OB: Calculating. I’m counting every stroke (don’t know why) and calculating my time. Very often I’m angry when coaches shout loudly to their athletes what to do - it’s distracting.
WR: What do you want to achieve in 2020?
OB: My goal for this year is Olympic qualification and the best result in Tokyo 2020
WR: What do you do when you are not rowing?
OB: Biking and walking.
WR: What do you do for fun?
OB: Travelling and spending time with my friends or family.
WR: Which sports person do you most admire?
OB: Ekaterina Karsten. She is an unbelievable person.