The University of Houston's tradition of winning is well documented. The four Cotton Bowl appearances, the Final Fours, the 16 National Championships in Golf; the dominating Volleyball program under Bill Walton, and the College World Series berth, not to mention the Track and Field program, which is littered with Olympians. All have put the University of Houston on the map in the realm of collegiate athletics. Within that storied history, few athletes have dominated their individual sport as Yulia Pakhalina has done with Diving.
University of Houston Senior, Yulia Pakhalina, has quietly dominated the CUSA and NCAA diving world. The Penza, Russia native, has achieved accomplishments ranging from CUSA Diver of the Week to 2002 Three-Meter Diving National Champion. Not to mention the fact Yulia teamed up with Vera IIynia, a former UH volunteer coach, and together they won the Gold Medal in the three-meter synchronized diving event at the 2000 Olympic games in Sidney, Australia. Her accomplishments are far to many to list in a simple interview, but rest assured, she will secure a place in the University of Houston Hall of Honor.
I had the pleasure of interviewing, Yulia Pakhalina. For the few minutes I spoke to her, I felt a bit overwhelmed; it's not everyday you get to speak with a Gold Medal winner and an NCAA National Champion.
Here is our interview.
CR: Yulia, How did you end up at the U of H?
YP: I was recruited by UH diving coach, Jane Figueiredo.
CR: What other schools recruited you?
YP: Mainly the University of Texas. I reason I chose UH was to be close to my good friend, who I consider a sister, Vera Iiynia.
CR: What is your Major at the U of H?
YP: Kineseology-Sports Administration.
CR: Your Father is a diving coach back in Russia; did he get you into diving?
YP: Yes he did. I really loved working with my father. I especially miss his being able to help me. But my coach and I talk to him whenever I have a problem. I miss him dearly as a father and a coach.
CR: Which do you prefer, the 1m springboard, or the 3m springboard?
YP: Definitely the 3-meter. I'm really confident and mentally stronger on the 3-meter springboard. I've always done better on the 3-meter versus the 1-meter.
CR: How was your experience at the 2000 Olympics, in Sydney?
YP: Great. Awesome. It was a great atmosphere filled with great people.
CR: Do you plan on competing in the 2004 Olympics?
YP: Yes. I want to repeat my success and do better.
CR: What is tougher from a competitive standpoint, competing in the NCAA Championships, or at the Olympics?
YP: The Olympics are so stressful. You only get one shot to do well. You see people, who aren't normally that good, do well that one time. The NCAA is a different atmosphere. My U of H team members accompanied me to NCAA Championships in Austin, and they were very supportive.
CR: What are your long-range plans?
YP: I want to stay here in the US, and work in Sports Administration.
CR: Yulia, I cannot express to you how proud and impressed the members of CoogFans are with your accomplishments; is there anything you would like to tell them today?
YP: I really love UH and the United States. Everyone is so nice and helpful to me. I want to say thank you to everyone and, I hope I don't disappoint them.
CR: Yulia, have you picked out your spot in the UH hall of Champions?
YP: (Laughing), no I'll leave that you guys.
Yulia is truly an asset to the University of Houston. She told me she hoped she would not disappoint the University of Houston family. In my opinion, Yulia Pakhalina is one of the most gifted athletes ever to grace the campus of the University of Houston, and we are truly honored and humbled by her choosing to be a Cougar.
Thank you, Yulia!!! And good luck in the 2002-2003 season!!