Marya Famo-Sava is not a name that suggests much. As a matter of fact, it’s a detail missed even by that thing people say knows it all: Google. However, I am certain that if I introduce her as Marya Savinova she won’t go unnoticed to the eyes of those who love athletics.
Farno-Sava is the name this Russian athlete, specialized in middle distance races, adopted after her marriage.
Her beginning in sports was not linked to athletics, but she assures she reached the tracks to stay. She started to excel late in 2008 to have results that were reflected in continental events.
Her first great performance was in the 30th Edition of the European Championship (Indoors) held in Turin in 2009, where she won the 800-meter race. But in Berlin, a few months later, her performance did not meet the expectations around her person, and she had to be content with a 5th place in the 12th World Championship. That result did not clearly speak about the potential of that girl born in 1985 in Chelyabinsk.
Determined to be part of history, she reappeared in 2010 to start the course that ended with gold medals: in the World Indoor Championship held in Doha and the World Championship Daegu 2011. In the latter she had a season best 1:55.87.
Masha as she likes to be called is a woman – Russian after all – who likes the cold and the snow. She also enjoys Victoria’s Secret’s designs and she identifies with the lions, with which she shares genesis thanks to her zodiac sign.
Although she does not speak English, I have had the possibility to contact her and while we spoke about her new special running shoes and the -20ºC reported in Yekaterinburg, where she currently trains, I asked her to let me interview her and she agreed.
Here I leave the details of our dialogue:
P: Was your beginning in sports always linked to athletics?
Masha: I started my sport career playing badminton, I’d been playing for 6 years but once I went to an athletic training. Since that very moment, my life changed.
P: There are records of you competing in distances like 1000m, 1500m, 400m and 800m; yet, you decided to go for 800m. Why that distance? Is there something special about running 800 meters?
Masha: When I began training, I used to run 30m and 60m. Then my coach and I decided to try 800m and I succeeded from the first time. I liked this distance. You must find some balance between strength, speed and stamina to cope with it. That is why this distance is so interesting.
P: Your finale in Daegu was perfect; you always stayed on Semenya’s heels. Was this part of the race tactics or you simply had a hunch you could succeed?
Masha: I didn’t expect myself to win. I was sure I would fight for the silver or bronze medal. At the training field I saw how good Caster was. I didn’t expect to win at the finish line. I didn’t intend to beat her, I was just trying to run in a convenient way for me cause I had had an injury during the last month before the championship. so yes, I was lucky to win.
P: After the finals you stated that you and the other Russians did not do any teamwork. Kostevskaya and Rusanova were below the expected results. Do you think that was due to bad planning?
Masha: Kostetskaya, Rusanova and I have different coaches, and there could be no team tactics. A team works for the sake of one sportsman. But everyone wants to win the World Championship! So everyone worked for his own benefit.
P: You are only missing an olympic medal. Do you think of London as the proper place? Who will be the main rivals?
Masha: The Olympic Games are the most important competition for every sportsman. I want to do my best, but I don’t make plans in advance.
The rivals will be the same, plus there will be some new young athletes, like Pamela Jelimo, who appeared before Beijing.
P: Do you know something about the history of Cuba in the 800 m?
Masha: Unfortunately I don’t know the sport history of 800m distance in Cuba. Once I had to run with Zulia Calatayut.
P:The record by Jamila Kratochvilova (1:53:60), set in 1983 is one of those times considered as an “utopia” for these times. Do you agree with the opinion that it is unbreakabla? Why?
Masha: I think the new world record for 800m will be set soon. During every Olympic year the sportsmen are closer and closer to the cherished seconds.
P: Athletics in Russia is not a popular sport. Can the celebration of the 2013 World Championship in Moscow change that?
Masha: Unfortunately, athletics is not so popular in Russia. The most popular are football and ice hockey. But I hope, the organizer will be able to attract people’s attention to the World Championship of 2013.
P: I feel very proud of having contacted you and I thank you for your time and for providing these exclusive statements. Will we see you in Istanbul, Helsinki, London or any other IAAF competition in 2012?
Masha: You will not see me in Istanbul. I miss the winter season, I will only train. Maybe I will compete in Helsinki and I hope, I will compete in London too.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m very pleased, that being so far, you know me because in Russia I was recognized once.
Note of the autos: I want to thank Yury Borsakovsky, who has become an everyday friend and to whom I owe having been able to reach Marya, who has proven to be also an excellent person.
Also, I want to thank Odette Fernández , Reynaldo Cruz and Darya Alesekeva who translated and proofread this interview.