Q&A with Track and Field Junior Kate Sultanova

March 6, 2007


Recently, junior Kate Sultanova sat down with the media relations staff to discuss the upcoming NCAA Indoor National Championships. The 2007 Big 12 Indoor champion in the pole vault with a winning vault of 13-09.25 feet, Sultanova enters the NCAA Indoor Championships as one of the favorites in the event, as she is one of just two women to clear 14 feet this year. Although the pressure is building as Saturday approaches, Sultanova is cool and confident about her chances on the national stage.

Q: How do you feel heading into the NCAA Indoor National Championships?
A: I feel very good. I am ready and so excited. I do feel some pressure heading into the event, especially being ranked second in the nation, but I try not to think about it too much.

Q: What have you and Coach Tom Hays talked about for the meet and what have you learned from him?
A: Well, I jumped today and I did pretty well. I feel ready and he knows that I am ready. He knows what I need to do and how to get me prepared for meets. Pole vault is a very individual sport in that every person has their own preparation and techniques, and I feel that Coach Hays he knows me and my routine better, which is a tremendous help.

Q: What have the other girls in your group said to try and encourage you and keep you focused?
A: They are actually coming to Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday to support me and I am very excited about that. It is definitely a good thing.

Q: How did it feel to win the Big 12 pole vault after sitting out a year?
A: It felt very good. You always expect to win, but I missed all of 2006, which was frustrating because I lost my experience in competing. Now I’m back and everything seems to be going all right.

Q: What are some of the relaxing techniques that you use before an event?
A: I listen to a lot music. I really love Madonna. I really like her new stuff, like her “Music” and “American Life” albums. I usually listen to “American Life” before an event and it helps me.

Q: What got you started in pole vaulting?
A: My dad was a coach and he was also a jumper. He was pretty good and won several national events. Then he started coaching and was the national coach for about 10 years, taking his team to the European and World Championships. I used to do rhythmic gymnastics and he asked me to try pole vault. At first I was not interested, but he kept asking me to try it and once I did, I thought it was pretty cool.

Q: What goes through your mind on the runway and after successfully clearing a bar?
A: On the runway, I mostly think about my takeoff. If you do the right takeoff, everything usually falls into place and works out. After I clear a bar, it is an exhilarating feeling. It is a lot of relief, especially at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. I cleared the winning height on my third attempt, and if I hadn’t done that, I would have finished second, so it was crazy.

Q: What is the main difference between indoor and outdoor pole vault?
A: I would say the weather is the biggest difference, as it can play a large factor in outdoor competition. Most of the time, events have two different pits that allow them to change the runways if the wind is becoming an issue. Sometimes the wind can be good for your swing over the bar. Of course in indoor events, there is no wind and things are pretty calm. In outdoor, you can also use a bigger pole.

Q: How helpful has it been having fellow Russian Student-Athletes and Coach Andy Kokhanovsky around during the season?
A: It is very helpful. It just feels natural to have them around. I especially like Coach Kokhanovsky. He is a very funny guy. Sometimes he will come down and help me before an event. He will tell me, sometimes in English, sometimes in Russian, to calm down or just relax. When he says it in Russian, it makes me feel more confident.

Q: What is your favorite track and field event to watch?
A: My favorite track and field event to watch is long jump. I have tried to do it several times and I think I will eventually try to compete in it as well. I also like hurdles. I have done those too, even though they can be somewhat scary. I think it is amazing how the athletes do that, especially at that speed. I think Ashley Brown has done a pretty good job this year, especially setting a new school record.

Q: What track and field event would you like to try?
A: I would really like to try sprinting, like the 60 or the 100 meters. I think those are my distances, as opposed to the 200 meters. The 200 meters is very hard and you have to have a lot of experience practicing that event. The 100 meters is closer to my event and we usually like those distances in our practices.