| Victor Kovalenko|
| 1.82 m|
| FC Shakhtar Donetsk (#74 / Midfielder)|Victor Kovalenko Wikipedia
Victor Kovalenko (Ukrainian: Віктор Коваленко; born 5 August 1950 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine then part of the Soviet Union) is the head coach of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team. Referred as “The Medal Maker,” Kovalenko has coached men and women sailors to 9 medals in many Olympic Games, beginning in 1988. Six of those medals are Gold.
Victor Kovalenko was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine – then part of the Soviet Union—in August, 1950. He learned to sail at the local "Meteor Club" when he was 12 years old. He became a member of USSR National sailing team in 1973, sailing Flying Dutchmen and Dragons. In 1974 he won the national Flying Dutchman championship with Valery Maydan. That year he put racing aside to complete his education at the Nikolaev State Pedagogical Institute where he graduated with majors in Sport and Sport Science. He began sailing 470s while at Nikolaev. He considers that 16-foot Olympic class dinghy the most difficult and most satisfying boat to sail. (Victor was USSR 470 Champion in 1981 with Michael Kudrjavtsev).
In 1978, Kovalenko met his wife, Tatiana Savenkova. A track athlete who ran the 400 meters, Miss Kovalenko was a coach before becoming an elementary school teacher. They are parents of one son, Vladimir, and have one grand daughter.
Kovalenko’s competitive career ended in 1984 when Russia boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics. After his team was disbanded, he turned part-time coaching into a full-time career.
In 1983, it was announced that in 1988 women would be welcome to sail in the Olympics for the first time. The 470 was named as the first women’s class. It fell to Kovelenko, a junior coach for USSR, to work with an inexperienced women’s team of which little was expected. In four years, he coached former rower Larisa Moskalenko and her crew, Iryna Chunykhovska to an Olympic podium finish (Bronze medal).
In 1991, after the Soviet Union was dissolved, Kovalenko began coaching both men’s and women’s teams for Ukraine. The 1996 Games in Atlanta were a huge success for the newly independent country’s first Olympics. Ukrainians brought home 9 Gold medals, 2 medals of them in sailing (Gold and Bronze). But political upheaval within the country resulted in lack of support for the sailing team. When Kovalenko was recruited by Australia, he accepted. He moved to Sydney in 1997.
His début as Australia’s coach (2000 Olympic Games, Sydney) resulted in Gold medals for both the men’s and women’s teams. Australia missed the podium in Athens (2004), but in China (2008) both Kovalenko’s men’s and women’s teams each won Gold medals.
In London, 2012, the team of Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won Gold for Australia in the 470 class. Belcher and Kovalenko have now been working together 16 years.ten Olympic medals (6 of them Gold) in 8 Olympic Games
winner, 18 world championships
two ISAF Rolex Sailors of the Year (Ruslana Taran, 470, 1997; Mathew Belcher, 470, 2013)
winner, 13 European championships
winner, 118 world class regattas
Australian Coach of the year 2008, 2012
OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) (2012)
Four medals from USSR and Ukrainian governments
Member, Australian Sports Hall of Fame
Member, 470 class Hall of Fame
Member, ISAF Coach’s Commission
Vice-President, International Coaches Association
Honorary Member, Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Royal Tasmania Yacht Club, Sandringham Yacht Club, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Middle Harbor Yacht Club
Ambassador, Australia Day 2000, 2013