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13.05.2014, 09:44
Glibko living in the moment
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FEATURE: Ukraine's rising star delighted to be unleashing her potential with club and country
 

Glibko living in the moment

It is no surprise that Iryna Glibko frequently plays with a smile, considering she was born in Odessa, the Ukrainian capital of humour, near the Black Sea.

 “My passion of handball is essentially random. The sport school is located a few steps behind my home. One winter evening I went with my sister and a friend to see the rhythmic gymnastics and badminton.

“While watching a training, my future first coach Diana Kutsurais offered the three of us a chance at handball,” says the 24-year-old playmaker and one of the Ukrainian national team’s key players Iryna Glibko.

“My first impression was wonderful. I started training with boys since I was eight and it turned out I would be involved in handball for a long time.

“Before graduating from school, I could not even imagine that I would be a professional player. I played just for fun, just like with wushu, which I practiced when I was young.

“There are no professional teams in Odessa, but when I represented our region in a national tournament, a coach from Lviv, Valeriya Tishchenko, noticed me and I signed first professional contract at 17,” explained Glibko.

Positive influences

With “Galytchanka” Lviv, Glibko won silver in the national championship and made her international debut at the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2007 in Slovakia. She was second top-scorer in the team, but her talent was not enough to help Ukraine above 16th place.

After half a year in Nalogovy University (Irpen) she moved to Zaporozhye for another silver medal with Zaporozhye-ZGIA. The secret to the unexpected silver with little-known young players was in the name of the coaches.

“I’m really happy to have met and work under Leonid Ratner’s wings. He has fantastic and probably unique skills in handball. With him Ukraine won Olympic bronze in 2004 – Ukraine’s only medal in team sports. Ratner and his assistant Georgiy Voronov they gave me a lot.”

After Zaporozhye, Glibko went back to Nalogovy University. After national championship bronze, she and fellow national team members Yuliya Zaremba and Yaroslava Burlachenko left for Romania, joining Danubius Galati. Although they were relegated from the first league, Glibko’s 177 goals made her top scorer in the championship.

“When I heard that I was the top scorer in Romania, I was very surprised. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t follow statistics, sometimes I don’t even know which team we play against next,” she admitted with a smile. 

“I really lucky to have coach Alexandrina Suare at Galati, who was inclined to the Scandinavian school of handball, but at the same time she is always enhancing her knowledge.”

Ratner and Glibko still work together in the national team and the centre back was one of Ukraine’s most influential players in the back court at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia. However, defeats to Czech Republic, Serbia and Norway spelled an early exit for her side.

“When I saw the Men’s EHF EURO in Serbia, I dreamed of playing in a huge hall like Kombank Arena in Belgrade. Yes, we lost all games, but it was a great experience.

“Ukraine never missed EURO tournaments, this fact I know. And now we try to continue the tradition, as difficult as it may be. Everyone knows that there is always a chance, in any situation. So I believe that we will qualify for the EHF EURO 2014, even with our difficult start.”

It is quite possible that Danish coach Mette Klit who leads Glibko’s new club CSM Bucharesti will have a secret route to success against Jan Pytlick’s Denmark, when the sides meet on 4 June.

Any positive result in Michalovce, Slovakia will depend on the 24-year-old, who despite her height (169 cm) has one of the most powerful shots in the national team.

“I never thought about it, but I guess this force is natural. Meanwhile in the Romanian championship I find out what real power is.

“I live in the moment. Life is too short, so my way is here and now. I get a lot of pleasure from handball and never think about quitting, however bad I feel.

“Every athlete dreams about the Olympic games. But my own plan is to just go forward towards the next important stop. Whether it be the Champions League, World Championship or Olympics, the main thing is not to lose inspiration,” concluded Glibko.


TEXT: Igor Grachov / cor
 
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