Lausanne, Switzerland


Marina Zueva (BLR) WCSS GER 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 908607370

Marina Zueva (BLR) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (GER) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Stamina, that's what separates Marina Zueva (BLR) from the others. Speed skating was her first love, but certainly not the only one. Since she was a little kid Marina has also done inline-skating, mountain-biking and cycling on both road and track. Apart from being a top-athlete herself, the Belarussian national champion also coaches kids. Working on the development of speed skating in her motherland, Marina takes two youngsters by the hand to form a Belarussian Team Pursuit squad next season.

Marina Zueva (BLR) WASSC 2019©International Skating Union (ISU) 1133482007

Marina Zueva (BLR) at the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

"I was born an raised in Minsk and I started skating when I was seven years old, following my sister's example. At the time Minsk did not have an indoor rink yet and we skated on natural ice, but the winters were not very long so we could only skate in January and February. The rest of the year we would go inline skating."

Marina Zueva

Marina Zueva (BLR)

Like so many top skaters, Marina participated in the Viking Race, an international youth tournament in Heerrenveen, Netherlands.

"I was eleven years old and I was very nervous to skate in front of such a huge crowd of people. I had a false start in the 500m, but me and my opponent did not hear a second shot, so we looked at each other and continued skating. When we completed the lap the starter stopped us yet, and we had to start all over again."

 Marina Zueva (BLR) WCSSF 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 933179286

Marina Zueva (BLR) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Marina was one of the biggest talents in Belarus, but her progress stalled when she was about 15 years old and at age 18 she could not motivate herself to continue speed skating. Her passion for sports was still there and Marina got a coaching degree to train kids at an inline skating school. Being a natural born athlete herself, she still did a lot of exercise, be it inline skating, road cycling or mountain biking.

You can take an athlete out of the sport, but you cannot take the sport out of the athlete. Marina made a name for herself in international inline marathons.

"There was an international marathon in Tartu, Estonia. It was a race in which men and ladies competed together and I was the only girl who could keep up with the boys heading into the final five kilometers. The boys were all looking at each other and I decided to attack. It was funny how the only girl skated away form the boys. Eventually they caught up with me in the final sprint, but I won the ladies' competition of course."

Marina's achievements did not go unnoticed and when she was 21 years old, Belarussian national speed skating coach Sergei Minin (BLR) asked her to join the national team.

"She was only training two or three times a week and still managed to post these results," Minin says. "I really wanted to have her back in the speed skating squad, but it was not easy to convince her. Marina was very busy at the time. She had two different jobs, coaching children in the inline school and on the ice and she also studied management of tourism."

Marina accepted the invitation, however, and despite still working as a kid's coach and studying, she managed to break the national record in the 3000m in her first ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Berlin in 2014.

"That really convinced me that I had made the right choice," Marina says. "The previous national record was set at high altitude in Salt Lake City, so I knew there was still a lot of room for improvement. When I qualified for the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships I decided to quit my job as a children's coach to fully focus on my speed skating career."

Marina still does train kids every once in a while though. "But that's not for the money, it's just for fun."

Marina Zueva (BLR) WCSS GER 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 908607180

Marina Zueva (BLR) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (GER) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

As the coach who brought Marina back into speed skating, Sergei Minin was instrumental in letting her talent for speed on ice blossom.

"He gave me back the pleasure and joy in speed skating I had lost before. I was used to the same very hard endurance training routine and Sergei showed me how training can be fun too."

Part of that fun is variety in training and competition. "I enjoy skating against other top level girls. Skating against someone like Martina Sáblíková, like I did at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships, helps me a lot in my own progress. And in the summer it's the same in inline skating. Last year I skated at the World Championships in the Netherlands for the first time, which I enjoyed a lot."

After a successful season in which she finished seventh in the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Calgary, Marina has set her sights on Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, in which she hopes to compete alongside youngsters Ekaterina Sloeva and Anna Kovaleva (BLR) in the Team Pursuit. But there's still a long way to go to Beijing 2022.

Marina Zueva (BLR) WASSC 2017©International Skating Union (ISU) 634728234

Marina Zueva (BLR) at the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

"I take it one step at the time. I want to improve every season. At the moment I can skate very fast, but it's not stable. When I manage to keep up the same level every competition, I can take a next step forward. It's great to have some new girls from Belarus. I try to share my experiences with them. Together we hope to lift the level of Belarussian speed skating."

In the meantime, Marina will be competing at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final in Salt Lake City (USA) from March 9 - 10. Follow her and stay tuned on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.