Cool Runnings

04/07/2011 22:04

Rach n TatAssistant coach Tatyana Pozdnyakova gives Rachel Jensen some pointers during a recent practice.


Growing up in the small autonomous Republic of Buryatia, she wanted to be like her older sister. She envied her sister for her success going to a university and traveling to cities all over the Soviet Union.

Pozdnyakova enjoyed nothing more than watching her sister train. There was just something there that Tatyana Pozdnyakova knew that she wanted.

When her sister would come home from college, Tatyana would do her best to imitate her and her running style.

Pozdnyakova was very competitive in everything she did. She had a love for all sports.

“I was very energetic and I always wanted to be the best, but I never thought I would be successful at track and field,” Pozdnyakova said.

Once she turned 18, she began to follow in the footsteps of the sister she once really looked up to. Pozdnyakova began to run when she started college.

While running was something fairly new for her, she was very successful at it.

She was a mainstay on the Soviet team for 11 years from 1980 — 1991.

At the IAAF World Cross Country Championships during the period of 1981 through 1985, Tatyana was part of two Gold Medal teams, 1981 and 1982, and also was part of two Silver Medal teams, 1983 and 1985.

To add to those accomplishments she is also a seven-time Soviet Union champion.

“When you become the Champion of the Soviet Union, especially in those times, it was very honored and prestigious,” she said. “When you succeeded it was inexpressible happiness.”

Pozdnyakova has performed on some of the biggest stages in the world, including the World Cup, World Championships, Championships of Europe and has qualified for the Olympics on four different occasions.

She never did get to chance to run in the Olympics even though she has qualified and had results that matched those considered world-class.

Once the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, she had a stint with the Ukraine national team and also started to focus on long distance running.

While she had so many awards and accomplishments in her younger years, her running success was just like fine wine, it was getting better with age.

At the age of 39 she started to run marathons. Between 1994 and 2006 she competed in 27 of them, winning 12, and acheiving runner-up in six.

Two of the biggest wins in her career were her overall titles in the 2003 and 2004 Los Angeles City Marathons.

“I was never focused on winning,” she said. “I just wanted to do my best and
I think God helped me.”

Once you turn the age of 40 your are considered to be in the Master Class and she owns several world-records in runs for the class.

She has also been named female Masters Runner of the Year by Runner’s World Magazine.

In 2006, she decided it was time to hang up the running shoes and retire from professional running.

Once retired, she still had the passion and love for the sport, so she chose to put that passion into coaching. She was also an agent for other professional runners from the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

At the end of 2009, Tatyana and her husband Alex, a former Soviet Union and Ukraine national champion, decided to move to Oregon to look for a coaching job.

She soon received a call from LCC’s head cross country coach John Scholl. Now she and her husband are helping coach the Titans to what could be a championship season.

Her career has now turned full-circle. She started with a dream: to be like the sister who was able to run at the collegiate level. Not only has Pozdnyakova done that — she has run at the professional level and set world records — she’s passing her knowledge on to runners who aspire to do the same.