Many good things have come from the fall of communism.
The latest, at least for the UA track team, is the arrival of Russian 800m runner Timur Voitetsky.
Actually, Voitetsky moved to Tucson in January 1994 from Volgograd, Russia, about 600 miles southeast of Moscow. Situated on the banks of the Volga River, Volgograd is between the Ukraine on the west and Kazakhstan on the east.
His enrollment for the spring semester of that year ended a two-year recruitment process
His personal running coach, Yuri Korolkov, sent a fax containing Voitetsky's times to UA track coach Dave Murray in 1992.
"He just had the address of the school and had really known nothing about the UA," said Voitetsky on why his coach sent Voitetsky's profile to Murray.
Murray apparently liked what he saw because, soon thereafter, Voitetsky received an invitation to the UA in the mail.
"It was kinda out of the blue," the sophomore said.
UA track athlete Alex Krichenko, an All-American in the javelin throw, also hails from Volgograd and was an acquaintance of Voitetsky. But this fact had nothing to do with Voitetsky coming to Arizona because he did not know where Krichenko attended school.
"I just knew he went to the U.S.," said Voitetsky, whose father is the head of Foreign Relations in Volgograd Administration.
And voila, the Wildcats had a new foreign exchange student/athlete, joining others like Kenyan long distance runners Martin and Bob Keino, Nigerian sprinter Akeem Akinremi, and Krichenko.
However, Voitetsky had troubles adapting to the American culture.
"Last year I really sucked," said Voitetsky on how his running was effected by his move.
"He felt that he owed us something for what we've done for him," said Murray on Voitetsky's tumultuous year. "He felt too much pressure to run fast."
Beside adjusting athletically, Voitetsky said language is the biggest barrier to overcome.
"I fit in pretty well (with other students) but the minute I open my mouth, they know I am a foreigner," Voitetsky said.
The culture shock he experienced took time to get used to.
"It always kind of made me nervous," he said. "I was always afraid of failing in my races and in school."
However, Voitetsky's early troubles did not phase Murray.
"(Timur) came in the middle of last year and took a while to get adjusted," Murray said. "However, we anticipate him having an outstanding season."
Fulfilling Murray's prophesy, Voitetsky seems to have made a 180 degree turn for the best.
Two weeks ago, in the U.S. Direct Invitational at the United States Air Force Academy, Voitetsky won the 800m event with a time of 1:52.78, a great time for the beginning of the season, said Murray.
The mark is less than eight seconds off the indoor world record, set by Kenyan Paul Ereng in 1984.
With his Jan. 28 performance in the Arizona All-Comers meet, Voitetsky set the Pac-10 Outdoor Championships qualifying time in the 800m, running in 1:51.38.
A good showing in the conference finals is among Voitetsky's personal goals for this season.
"I'd like to win the Pac-10 Championships and qualify for Nationals (NCAA Championships)," said Voitetsky. "I would also like to set the school record (in the 800m of 1:47.00 held by former UA standout Doug Herron)."
Voitetsky's personal best in the event is 1:47.40, set while attending High School Number 30 in Volgograd.
But last year at the UA, he ran a team best time of 1:49.74.
Voitetsky wants to become a world class runner, eventu-
ally running in the European pro circuit, but first he has his sights set on the Olympics.
"I think I'd like to get on the Russian National team," he said. "I don't know about Atlanta (site of the 1996 Olympics). Well, we'll see."
Voitetsky is not an American citizen and, thus, ineligible to represent the United States in the Olympics. He must be a resident for seven consecutive years in order to gain citizenship.
Eventually, he would like to attain dual citizenship in Russia and the United States, but has yet to decide on which country he will live in.
However, Voitetsky, who is majoring in mangement information systems wants to work for an American computer company as a programmer after graduation, said his heart remains with his home country and, with the recent demise of communism, has renewed pride in calling himself Russian.
"Many people were limited in rights to express themselves," he said on the former Soviet Union. "The new generation has taken freedom with joy."
However, Voitetsky realizes democratic Russia has its work cut out for it.
"They're having a pretty bad time going from communism to peace," he said on Russia's present economic problems. "It takes a great deal of time to get everything straight."
"In the U.S., everything is well established," he added in his slight Russian accent. "Sometimes people (in the U.S.) take democracy for granted."
And because inquiring minds want to know, Voitetsky was asked how American women compare to those in Russia.
"I would say that American women are as beautiful as Russians," he said in a politically correct manner.
However, interested coeds be warned, Voitetsky has a fiancee waiting for him back home.
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