Gennadii Zuiev has been named as the recipient of the Coaching Achievement Award, the first winner to be announced as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022.
Despite the conflict in their home country of Ukraine, Zuiev continued to guide high jumper Andriy Protsenko to world and European medals in 2022, also working with other athletes to overcome the difficulties they faced.
A former national level high jumper himself, Zuiev turned to coaching in 1999 and started working with a 13-year-old Protsenko a few years later. Protsenko was a sprinter at the time, but Zuiev encouraged him to try the high jump and the 34-year-old has gone on to become a multiple world and European medallist, who has a PB of 2.40m.
Protsenko’s most recent achievements are the bronze he claimed at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 and the medal of the same colour he won at the European Championships in Munich.
Zuiev and Protsenko both live in the Kherson region of Ukraine and Protsenko spent around five weeks under the Russian occupation in March and April. Improvising with home-made equipment, he was still able to train and their hard work paid off when Protsenko made the podium in Oregon and Munich.
“This award is a big surprise for me, but I’m really satisfied and I’m glad that the work of Andriy and I was highly regarded by World Athletics,” said Zuiev.
“We tried to keep fit, as we realised that the only thing we could do was to continue our routine job, aiming to prepare for international competitions as best as possible.
Certainly, it was crazy difficult. It is difficult to even think about training and competition when there is a war in your own country. These thoughts haunted us constantly.
“The world bronze medal is as good as gold for me and Andriy, especially taking into account what he had to overcome on the road to get it.”
As well as guiding world-class athletes, Zuiev has delivered a number of seminars for Ukrainian coaches and in 2018 and 2019 he shared his two decades of experience as part of presentations on the topic of ‘long term development of a world class high jumper’.
The Coaching Achievement Award is the first of 10 honours celebrated as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022. Further announcements will be made in the coming days, ahead of the World Athletes of the Year and Rising Stars being revealed on Monday 5 December.