A bond, a photograph, three Latvian female athletes: Texas freshman Kristine Blazevica’s track history runs deep

Kaitlyn Harmon, Sports Reporter

A picture of a Latvian triple jumper competing in the 1996 Olympic Games hung in the hallway of Kristine Blazevica’s childhood home.

Kristine, a freshman heptathlete at The University of Texas from Riga, Latvia, remembers seeing that photo of her mother, Jelena Blazevica, every day. It was a tribute to Jelena’s accomplishments in representing her country as she competed in Atlanta, Georgia in the triple jump. Twenty-five years later, Jelena’s track career is long over, but her relationship with track and field lives on through her daughter.

“My sporting achievements are already in the past, but Kristine’s are still ahead,” Jelena said. “It is much more interesting to dream of your daughter’s new (sporting) achievements than to think about the past.”

Despite having a concrete legacy in the sport, Kristine found her love for track and field through dance. In primary school, the Latvian-turned-Texan heptathlete transitioned to other sports and athletics, where she then discovered a passion for track and field. Kristine’s parents, Jelena and Jurjis Blazevica, were both former triple jumpers who encouraged Kristine to give track and field a shot.

Kristine has searched the ends of the internet to find video footage of Jelena competing at the 1996 Olympics, but the pinnacle of her mother’s track career does not exist on tape. Instead, Kristine finds the closest live memory of that moment in the photograph that hung in her childhood home. She also found inspiration through photo albums of her mother leaping through the air.

When reflecting on being the daughter of a former Olympic competitor, Kristine feels emotions of pride amongst other things.

After years of working to get a shot at Texas in track and field, Kristine has found more appreciation for her mother’s accomplishments.

“As I’m getting older, I’m getting more proud of her,” Kristine said.

From the earliest days of Kristine’s career, Jelena has not once coached Kristine in her training. But the mother-daughter Latvian track duo prides themselves on having a track and field bond that cherishes one another’s accomplishments and careers.

“There are things that Kristine already understands better than me,” Jelena said. “And then I ask her for advice. We understand and feel each other well.”

Yet, when the mother-daughter duo is not talking about competitions, training, injuries, recovery or the trials of being a student athlete, the two find joy in simply spending time together like close friends.

Valentina Gotovska entered Kristine’s life long before her track and field career was born. Gotovska, Jelena’s old friend and Kristine’s godmother, is a four-time Olympic athlete who also competed in the 1996 Olympics, as well as the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Games.
While the first woman who introduced Kristine to the sport was Jelena, Valentina was the heptathlete’s first coach.

“It’s a huge responsibility to coach your goddaughter and the daughter of your friend,” Gotovska said. “(Jelena and Kristine) have a good mother-daughter relationship, but also, they are like close friends.”

Jelena and Kristine’s close relationship doesn’t just stem from their mother-daughter dynamic, but from the similarities in their track and field careers. Through track, the Blazevica women are even closer.

“I feel that the emotions I’m experiencing watching my daughter’s competitions are even stronger than the ones I have ever experienced in competition myself,” Jelena said.