Ukrainian import the new face of local track and field club
In Oleg we trust, says Judy Armstrong, president of the Kamloops Track and Field Club (KTFC).
"He is a dedicated young man," Armstrong said of 23-year-old Oleg Bondarchuk, who has been named the club's new head coach.
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and his references were excellent," Armstrong said.
Bondarchuk, grandson of Kamloops National Throws Centre lead coach Anatoliy Bondarchuk, was the prime candidate to replace Jarett McLean when he resigned from his post as KTFC's head coach 10 months ago.
The turtle-like speed of the emigration process — Oleg, Ukrainian by birth, made Kuwait home for about 15 years before making the move to Kamloops last week — has made life tough on the new head coach and his wife.
"In September, Judy told me that everything is ready — I'm going to give you the job, I'm going to give you a good contract and everything is going to be great," Oleg recalled of his conversation with Armstrong.
"I agreed with everything and said, 'You just get me here. Don't pay me money. Don't do anything. Just get me here to work.'
"Now, I'm here."
Not only has he arrived, but Oleg, who speaks four languages — Arabic, English, Ukrainian and Russian — is loving what he sees.
"Everything is beautiful," the sharp-dressed import told KTW.
"Life in Kuwait, first of all, it's too hot and it's too dusty and the people, I don't know how to explain it . . . it's hard to live there for us."
Oleg's wife has not yet made the trip to Canada, due to emigration issues, but is expected to arrive before the new year.
On the surface, the decision to hire a 23-year-old Ukrainian might seem precarious, but Armstrong said Oleg's experience, schooling and references made him the outright favourite for the job.
The former hammer thrower, whose career was cut short due to a back injury, coached Kuwait's best young athletes at the country's most prestigious club.
Oleg holds two bachelor degrees — one in physical education and sport, the other in physical rehabilitation — from the University of Kyiv.
Administrative work will not take up a great deal of Oleg's time in Kamloops, as the lion's share of his attention will be focused on coaching.
"We don't want him to get bogged down in all the paperwork," Armstrong said, noting McLean was often overloaded with bureaucratic duties during his tenure with the club.
Oleg had no time to rest after arriving in Kamloops from Kuwait — his grandfather had him scheduled to begin coaching at 9 a.m. the day after his plane touched down.
And, judging by the ear-to-ear grin on Oleg's face throughout his introductory press conference, the new head coach wouldn't have had it any other way.
"I used to think I should go to America, but then my grandfather say it's a nice place here and he is going to help me with everything," Oleg said.
"He's the best teacher that I know. He's going to give me his secrets and he's going to make me a new all-world coach."