Ledouskaja and Zvereva help give Minsk a makeover

Belarus Olympic champions Tatsiana Ledouskaja and Ellina Zvereva were seen in slightly unfamiliar roles on Saturday as they picked up their tools and participated in the now traditional spring clean of the sports complex around the Olympic Stadium in Minsk.

"I participated on this day from my childhood, because it was the tradition in Soviet Union, that in spring everybody cleaned the parks or areas near their houses or block of flats. I've participated with the National Olympic Committee every year from 1990," said Ledouskaja, the 1988 Olympic Games 400m hurdles champion.

Ledouskaja is now the general secretary of the Belarus Athletic Federation and also the main coach of sprint and hurdles for the Belarus national team.

"It's good tradition. We can be useful to our city, prepare sports places for summer season, and it's good opportunity to meet with all our friends, including Olympic champions from various different kinds of sport," she added.

Zvereva won Discus at the 2000 Olympic Games and set her still-standing Belarus record of 71.58m back in 1988.

Remarkably, at the age of 49, she is still a competitive thrower. She won her specialist event at the Belarus Championships last year and went to her sixth World Championships - having won in 1995 and 2001 - although she had the calamity of three fouls in the qualifying round.

She hasn't confirmed whether she's aiming to make the Belarus team going to Barcelona for this summer's European Athletics Championships, which would be her fifth, but Ledouskaja - a team mate of Zvereva on many occasions including at the 1990 European Athletics Championships in Split, Croatia, when she won the women's 400m Hurdles title - expects to be there in an official capacity.

"Speaking about Barcelona itself, it's very beautiful city, kind people and nice stadium. I'm looking forward to going back there," commented Ledouskaja.

"I have mixed memories of Barcelona as a competitor; I was there as a member of the USSR team at the World Cup in 1989 and I finished second.

"However, I don't have such good memories of the Olympic Games in 1992. I still feel very unhappy to have been placed fourth as I had exactly the same time as the bronze medallist (both Ledouskaja and the United States' Janeene Vickers were given 54.31 but the American was placed third) but I was not on podium. I hope this year my team will be having more luck than I had in 1992."

Ledouskaja was also her country's first winner of a European Athletics Women's Leadership Award.

The biennial awards were given for the first time in 2009 and are the centrepiece of European Athletics' strategy to promote the development of women leaders and gender equity in the sport.


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