Anna Chicherova is an athlete competing in track and field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Russia, making her third appearance at the Games, where she figures to contend for gold in the women's high jump. The Beijing Olympic bronze medalist returned from maternity leave in 2011 to win her first world title.

Chicherova carried the momentum from her monster jump at the Russian National Championships into the remainder of 2011. With Croatia's Blanka Vlašic nursing injury, Chicherova proved to be in a league of her own, easily winning gold at the World Championships in Daegu with a 2.03m/6-8 clearance. She also won the Memorial Van Damme competition in Brussels to earn the Diamond League season title.

After taking the 2010 season off following the birth of her daughter Nika, Chicherova returned to competition in 2011 looking to regain the form that made her an international medal threat prior to the World Championships in Daegu. At the Russian Championships in July, Chicherova sprung out of nowhere with the jump of a lifetime, clearing a national-record 2.07m/6-9½, the third-best mark in history.

"Sometimes people say I'm too relaxed and don't always concentrate during competitions; well, this time I did," Chicherova csaid. "Every time I jumped I was absolutely determined to jump as well as possible. I arrived at the stadium with the mindset that I was not going to yield to anyone, whatever the circumstances. Previously, I also had a problem that I did not always believe in myself. Somehow, with the birth of my daughter, I gained confidence and fighting spirit. Once, I was sometimes a picture of self-pity and sorrow. Motherhood has changed me greatly. I have even told some of the other girls I know that they should go off and give birth, then return to competition."

The 2009 season saw Chicherova finish tantalizing close to victory on a number of occasions. In her nine competitions on the year, she finished runner-up in six of them, including Golden League meetings in Paris, Zurich and Brussels, the Hanzekovic Grand Prix in Zagreb, the World Championships in Berlin and the World Athletic Final in Thessaloniki. Chicherova's best clearance on the year came at the Worlds in Berlin, where she cleared 2.02m/6-7½ to best hometown favorite Ariane Friedrich of Germany on a countback and finish behind repeat champion Blanka Vlašic of Croatia.

Chicherova's start to the 2008 Olympic year began slowly. After her modest clearance fell off precipitously, she took two weeks off to train full-time in hope of sharpening her technique. She returned to win the Russian Cup in Tula at 2.01m/6-7 and then cleared 2.03m/6-8 to beat reigning Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko at the Russian Trials. In Beijing, Chicherova cleared 2.03m/6-8 again to earn the bronze medal behind Tia Hellebaut of Belgium and Blanka Vlašic of Croatia. "I have tried many times to find the answer to why I jump well at the major events but cannot be stable during the whole season," Chicherova said. "It is probably because it's hard for me to concentrate at some commercial tournaments. I jump well if I think the event may be the last one in my life. Then yes, I just go out and give on the sector everything I have. But it's hard to stay concentrated like that for long."

The 2006 season remains a point of frustration for Chicherova. Her season bests were just 1.96m/6-5 indoors and 1.95/6-4¾ outdoors, performances she has called "the black stripe in my career." She recovered the following year with a victory at the Russian Championships at 2.01m/6-7 that earned her a trip to the World Championships. She went to Osaka as an underdog and wound up tying Italy's Antonietta DiMartino for silver at 2.03m/6-8. Blanka Vlašic of Croatia won gold at 2.05m/6-8¾. "In Osaka, it was very important for me to prove to myself that I can jump high," Chicherova said. "After all these months of problems, injuries and struggling I wasn't sure that my muscles still remembered how to jump two meters."

In 2005, Chicherova won the European Indoor Championship in Madrid, clearing 2.01m/6-7. To this day, it remains her only victory at a major senior-level international competition. "Sometimes I wonder why, in all these years, with not bad jumps, I've managed to win only one tournament," Chicherova said.
"There were injuries. There were bad days for me when I could not concentrate, although generally I jump my best at the big events. And there are competitors who are really strong too."

Any expectations for Chicherova on the heels of her 2003 bust out had to be lowered entering the 2004 Olympic year as aponeurosis plantaris kept her sidelined from training or jumping for three months. She was able to resume training two weeks before the Russian Trials, a competition she remarkably won with a clearance of 1.98m/6-6. Things didn't break as fortuitous once she got to the Olympics. In Athens, Chicherova cleared just 1.96m/6-5 and watched as her teammate, Yelena Slesarenko, won the gold at 2.06m/6-9. "It was a kind of disappointment but, on the other hand, I was happy at least to be there, at my first Olympic Games," Chicherova said.

Fueled by her breakout indoor season, Chicherova embarked on the 2003 outdoor campaign with a nothing-to-lose mentality. In the end, she wound up winning her first international medal on the senior circuit, a bronze at the World Championships in Birmingham. "Of course I was absolutely happy to win a medal and to make such a progress," she said. "Again, it was really easy mentally. I was free of any burden of expectation. The bronze was really great. I think never again after Birmingham would I feel this relaxed. That bronze turned me into one of the favorites. I was aware that, from now, on people would expect something from me."

Having lowered her weight and increased her strength in Coach Zagorulko's new regimen, Chicherova finally saw the improvement she was looking for in 2003. In just six month Chicherova improved her PB by 12 centimeters. On January 7, at the Christmas Cup in Yekaterinburg, Chicherova jumped a national record 2.04m/6-8¼. "This was just an absolute shock for everybody," she said. "People were saying, 'Either we are dreaming or you have done something with yourself. It's sports, not a fairytale.'"

By 2002, Chicherova had only improved her personal-best by three centimeters to 1.92m/6-3½ in three years of training in Moscow. Frustrated by the miniscule progress, she contemplated quitting the sport. "Three years of hard work without any progress — what's the sense in continuing?" Chicherova said in an IAAF interview. "I decided to go and ask Yevgeny Zagorulko to become my coach. If he had refused, I would have just gone back home and forgotten about high jump." Zagorulko agreed, and Chicherova joined his group in August 2002. By the winter she was 13 pounds lighter and much stronger physically.

When Chicherova turned 17, she moved to Moscow and entered the Russian Sports Academy. Under the guidance of her third coach, Alexander Fetisov, she won gold at the World Youth Championships Bydgoszcz, Poland, during that first year, clearing 1.89m/6-2¼. In 2000, she jumped 1.85m/6-0¾ and finished fourth at the World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile.

Chicherova began jumping at the age of 7 under the tutelage of her father, Vladimir, a former professional high jumper. Her training went smoothly until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Chicherova's family moved from Armenia to a small town (Belaya Kalitva) in the Rostov region of Russia. There, Chicherova began training with coach Alexei Bondarenko because her father had to take a job as a railway station worker to support the family.


How tall is she? How old is she? Where does she live? Find out here.

Age: 34 years old
Birthday: July 22, 1982
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 117 lbs.
Birthplace: Yerevan, Armenia
Current Residence: Moscow, Russia

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