Historic gold medal for Cyprus! Elena Kulichenko wins Cyprus’ first ever European U23 gold medal with victory in the high jump in #Espoo2023!
From Odintsovo, she is the daughter of Marina Kulichenko and Alexei Kulichenko. After graduating from high school she has starting at a university in Russia, but found she was unhappy and accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Georgia to study International Development and to start competing for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Kulichenko was the 2017 Russia U-18 National Outdoor Champion and was a silver medalist at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival in Gyor. In 2018, she was granted permission to compete in junior events as a neutral athlete.
In 2019, she was again declared eligible to compete as an authorised neutral athlete by the IAAF Doping Review Board even while the Russian national federation remained suspended. She met the exceptional eligibility criteria to compete in international competition under competition Rule 22.1A(b).
She was able to gain Cypriot citizenship in 2019 because her father works and owns property in the country which has an investment programme which allows foreign nationals who invest in the Cypriot economy to apply for passports for themselves and their families. The Amateur Athletic Association of Cyprus gave her the condition that she serve a transition season prior to competing for them internationally. She was quoted in Time Magazine as saying “It wasn’t a spontaneous decision, I thought about it for a long time”, but that she received “hundreds of messages on Instagram calling me a traitor”.
She began competing on the American collegiate circuit and was named SEC Women’s Indoor Freshman Field Athlete of the Year for 2022, and also earned First-Team All-American honors. She won the bronze medal in the high jump at the 2023 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, held in Austin, Texas in June 2023, finishing behind Lamara Distin And Charity Griffiths.
In July 2023, she won the Cypriot national championships with a 1.90m clearance in Nicosia