The rain in Kazan abruptly turned into tangible frosts, and these weather changes created rather tough conditions for skiers. However, all the events happened. Despite the severe cold, a cheerful and joyful environment reigned at the stadium. For many, frost was not an obstacle and even the other way around.
“The weather does not hinder us. Today our skiers run a 1 km distance. In the previous days, all three succeeded and won. Our credo is to work, work and work again. We are very pleased with both the competition and hospitality,”' said Olga Katkova, coach of the Tyumen Oblast team, a teacher of physical education at the Ishim boarding school. “We always go to the Special Olympics, but it’s our first time in Tatarstan. Kazan enchanted us, we really want to travel by underground, but don’t have time yet. There is a joyful, friendly atmosphere at the competitions. At the stadium, we had the same “box” with the team from Komi. Although our guys have hearing impairments, there were no obstacles to communication.
“We come from the Vologda Oblast, Velikiy Ustyug. Today we feel almost at home, although at home it is 37 degrees below zero. We have skiers and snowshoes here, pupils of a boarding school, aged 16-18. Today we have won four prizes. Very good impressions! Everything is great, organized at a high level,” the director of the Velikiy Ustyug Comprehensive Boarding School for Students with Disabilities Igor Kabakov shared his impressions. “The guys and I have been participating in the Special Olympics since 2011. This is a very useful area. Our children are teenagers like everyone else. When they go in for sports, they have less time left for idleness, bad habits. What is more, they set an example for the rest of the boarding school pupils: now 25 out of 170 of our children attend various sports classes. Sport helps them find themselves.”
By the last competition day, the athletes not only did not lose their energy and will to fight but seemingly have maxed out.
“It's just indescribable! I will long remember the Invitational Games! Plenty of emotions! The weather for sure let us down a bit, it was difficult on the track, it is harder to breathe in the cold, and I am worried about my results. However, very cool!” says 15-year-old Nikolay Furmanov from the Kostroma Oblast team. “There are many strong athletes. Such adrenaline! My dream is to come to the Special Olympics World Winter Games next year.
“Our children certainly want to make it through to the national team, but they are ready that the result may be different. Nevertheless, they try to perform to their best, as we got prepared. Now we have four golds one silver,” the coach of the Smolensk Center for Adaptive Physical Education Sergey Tikhonov says. “Our common impressions are wonderful. Yesterday we had a sightseeing tour of Kazan – what a beautiful city. We will be happy to come here again.”
Today, short track and figure skating competitions concluded on the ice arena of the Sports Palace in Kazan as part of the Special Olympics Russia Invitational Games.
The short track ended with finals at 111, 222, 333, and 777 m distances.
As the coaches of the Tatarstan team shared, all of the athletes are from residential care homes of Mendeleevsk, Mamadysh, Nizhnekamsk, and Kazan.
“All the guys have been preparing hard for the competition, of course, they worry, but they all want to win and qualify for the Special Olympics World Winter Games. All of them want to defend the honor of the country at these competitions,” said the representative of the coaching staff of the Tatarstan team. “We are naturally worried about them, we are anticipating their performance. The short track is new to us. We will continue to teach them. They have every chance, and they have enough talent to develop and reach a new level.
After the competition, the athletes shared their impressions of the Invitational Games and their stay in Kazan: “I liked how the ice was prepared, the venue itself. Kazan is a very beautiful city with many historical places,” says athlete Albina. She admits: she likes the competitions of the Invitational Games because here you can achieve better results.
“I love this sport. Competitions give me courage and bravery. I like to participate in the Invitational Games and win,” says Svetlana Medvedeva from the Sverdlovsk team. According to her, she really enjoyed the whole trip.
After the short track competitions were over, the final competitions of one of the most spectacular and the smallest sports in terms of the number of participants, figure skating, kicked off. Today, eight athletes skated the free routine (levels 3 and 4), including the only pair in Russia – Anna Yakovleva and Roman Zinurov.
“I have very good impressions of the Games. I am happy with how I performed, how everything went. We worked hard, I am grateful to the coaches and everyone who supports me,” says Anastasiya Shkiperova from the Saint Petersburg team. She had the program to the Chopin’s composition and won first place. The girl has been figure skating for 13 years, now she is at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Figure Skating.
For the coach of the “Crystal Horse” Ekaterinburg sports school, working with a pupil with intellectual disabilities was the first experience, and quite successful: his ward Vladimir Pryamikov became the silver medalist of the Invitational Games.
“Everything went well. Vladimir skated the program well. Music is the “Smile!” song by Muslim Magomaev he chose himself. I am very glad that he performed here. He is inspired, really wants to continue training. So we will carry on!