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Tatyana Baranova: I want to come back to Kazan in 2022

Today the Special Olympics Winter Invitational Games kicked off in Kazan. Cross country skiing athletes were the first to go to the starting line at the Lokomotiv Stadium. Among them is Tatyana Baranova from Tambovsk Oblast. At the Invitational Games, the 20-year-old athlete will perform at 5 and 7 km distances striving for victory only. According to her, it is essential to come first to qualify for the Special Olympics World Winter Games and return to Kazan in 2022.

Tatyana is from the Gorelsk boarding school for children with health disabilities. She took up sports at the age of 10, and all these years she has been training with the teacher Aleksandr Albitsky. As Tatyana admitted in an interview leading up to the competition, she had no dream of becoming an athlete. “I didn't think about it, but I always wanted to run and jump,” she said. Tatyana successfully performed at the school, regional, and Special Olympics Russia competitions and became a prizewinner. In addition to cross country skiing, she practices snowshoeing, tennis, sometimes plays basketball and football, but she likes track and field most.

As part of the Russian national team, Tatyana participated in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2017 in Austria. Then the young athlete claimed two golds at once, winning in snowshoeing at distances of 400 and 800 m.

Another start at major competitions happened 2 years later. In 2019, the UAE hosted the Special Olympics World Summer Games where she became the prizewinner of the track and field competitions having finished third at a 400 m distance and won silver at an 800 m distance.

Tatyana shared that at these tournaments, the opponents were strong, and it was not so easy to compete. “I liked it both in Austria and Dubai! We not only participated in the competitions but also went on tour,” the athlete recalls. As Tatyana admitted, she is a little bit nervous before the competitions, but she manages to tune in and move forward. The coaches help her in this, too. The athlete also notes that it is important to warm up well before the start, especially in cold weather.

Sports and competitions give her good health, teach her to strive for new goals. She is also trying to teach these to the younger athletes with whom she shares her experience. “I would like them to learn everything, run well, exercise so that they have good health and desire,” says Tatyana.