Athlete of the Month – May 2015
Ivan Dovgodko could not have hoped for better results in 2014. He raced at two international regattas – the European Rowing Championships and World Rowing Championships – and won gold twice. In Amsterdam Dovgodko even set a new World Best Time with his teammates in the quad, setting it at 05:32.26.
Throughout his career so far Dovgodko has focused primarily on the quadruple sculls. He became an under-23 World Champion in the quad in 2011 and also won bronze and silver at under-23 level in 2010 and 2009 respectively. In 2005 he won world bronze at the World Rowing Junior Championships.
Dovgodko is not the only rower in his family. His sister Nataliya won Olympic gold in the women’s quadruple sculls at the London 2012 Olympic Games. And it is no wonder as both of their parents were also competitive rowers.
World Rowing: How did you become involved in rowing and move up to elite rowing?
Ivan Dovgodko: I started rowing in 2001 in the sports society "Byrevistnuk" Kiev, with coach Raisa Kirilova. My parents led me into rowing as they were both rowers in their youth. My father Viktor Dovgodko was a member of the USSR national team and won multiple championships of the USSR. He also participated in the World Rowing Championships. My mother Valentine Dovgodko was part of the junior team of the USSR.
Later in 2005 Maxim Mulyarchuk became my coach. With him I first won bronze at the 2005 World Rowing Junior Championships in Brandenburg, Germany.
In 2008, when I left the junior category, I began working with Coach Vladimir Opalnik. And in 2009, I first won a silver medal at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Racice, Czech Republic. At the moment, I am a member of the national team of Ukraine under the direction of head coach Nikolai Dovgan.
WR: Are you a full-time rower or do you study alongside training?
ID: At the moment, I'm not just rowing. I am also a graduate student at the National University of Physical Education and Sport.
WR: Where do you train?
ID: I train with the national rowing team of Ukraine. I take part in all of the national team training camps.
When I am at home in Kiev, I train at the clubs “CSKA” (Central Sports Club of the Armed Forces of Ukraine) and “Byrevistnuk".
WR: What is your favourite/least favourite training session?
ID: I love to train. I love to train every day and all day. The feeling that I am getting better from day to day all the time is with me. I love all kinds of workouts and training sessions.
WR: How would you describe each of your rowing partners in the quad?
ID: Each member of the team, it's like a part of the whole. We are very good at communicating and we are friends. Each performs his task in order to achieve a common goal.
WR: In your opinion, what are your most valuable strengths?
ID: I believe that my strong point is perseverance and desire. Without these qualities, I probably would not see these results.
WR: What do you most admire about your main competitors – especially Germany and Great Britain?
ID: Every team that comes to the World Championships has a strong team. They are the champions of their country. And each opponent needs to be reckoned with. Sport captures the fact that the result is not always possible to predict.
WR: Year 2014 was a good year for you. You won the European Rowing Championships and then went on to win the World Rowing Championships. Were you expecting to be so strong before the season began? Why?ID: We expected changes in the results, since we changed our training system. But we did not expect that we would become so much stronger.
WR: When you were racing in Amsterdam, was it your goal to set a new World Best Time or did your feat surprise you?
ID: About the World Best Time, no one thought about it. We just wanted to win. For me, the Amsterdam Bosbaan is very successful, because here in 2011 I also set a World Best Time at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in the quad.
WR: How well-known is the sport of rowing in Ukraine?
ID: Rowing is not a very popular sport in Ukraine. We have a priority of football, although the results in football are average. We have tried many ways to make the sport (rowing) popular, but there are not many people who pay attention. Only in the last year did local TV and radio stations begin to pay attention.
WR: Has the political situation in Ukraine impacted you and the Ukrainian rowing team in any way?
ID: Yes, the situation in the country greatly affects the sport in general. There is no stability, and as a result, we do not get the normal funding. The government has changed but the situation in the country has not changed.
WR: How do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
ID: Hard to say. But I hope that in ten years all will get better and we will live in dignity without disaster. And I will humbly share knowledge and experience with the young generation of Ukrainian rowers.