Vla­dyslava Kravchencko to rep­re­sent Malta at Rio 2016 Par­a­lympics

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Af­ter the suc­cess of the Olympics, on the 5th of Septem­ber the small but ded­i­cated Malta Par­a­lympic Team will travel to Rio de Janeiro to com­pete on the global games that are recog­nised as one of the most watched sport­ing com­pe­ti­tions on the planet.

Vla­dyslava Kravchencko will be Malta’s sole par­tic­i­pant af­ter two other ath­letes from Track and Field Ath­let­ics dropped out.

One of these, An­to­nio Flores had to re­think his par­tic­i­pa­tion be­cause of se­ri­ous in­jury, brought about by the de­mands of train­ing for such a high level com­pe­ti­tion. An­to­nio rep­re­sented Malta at the Bei­jing Par­a­lympics.

Vlada is a com­pet­i­tive swim­mer who has ad­vanced rapidly over the past years with the sup­port of the Aquatic Sports As­so­ci­a­tion and coach Is­abelle Zarb.

The two have been work­ing to­gether to im­prove both speed and tech­nique to reach the high stan­dards re­quired at these games.

Vlada will com­pete in the 50m But­ter­fly & Back­stroke in the S5 cat­e­gory, and 100m Breast­stroke in the SB4 cat­e­gory. Vlada suf­fered a spinal in­jury and has para­ple­gia.

In her words, “sports has al­lowed me to fo­cus on lead­ing a pos­i­tive life de­spite the dev­as­tat­ing in­jury. In the past two years, I was able to put more time and en­ergy into train­ing, while still hold­ing my job as an ac­coun­tant at PwC, thanks to SportMalta Flexi Train­ing Scheme. I hope that the me­dia at­ten­tion given to the Par­a­lympic Games en­cour­ages more young­sters with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties to take up sports, com­pet­i­tively or just for leisure”.

Malta’s Par­a­lympic move­ment is led by Nathan Far­ru­gia and ad­min­is­tered by Ade­laide de Silva, who works at In­spire. Vlada met Nathan 4 years ago af­ter call­ing him up and stat­ing that she would like to be­come a para-ath­lete and take up swim­ming.

“I re­call her pas­sion and drive back then and she showed the qual­i­ties of all top ath­letes very early on. Un­der coach Ebi Mo­hamad­pour and Si­mon Zammit at In­spire, Vlada learnt to swim com­pet­i­tively in her cat­e­gory, which is a very dif­fer­ent ap­proach to swim­ming when you can’t kick your legs. The power and stamina in your arms must be huge!” ex­plained Nathan.

The Par­a­lympic Games are recog­nised as one of the worlds lead­ing sport­ing events. Over 1 mil­lion tick­ets have been sold to date for the games in Rio. They sym­bol­ise the in­clu­sion of all peo­ple in so­ci­ety and rep­re­sent some of the strong­est and most ded­i­cated ath­letes in the world.

Malta has a small Par­a­lympic mo­ment which is grow­ing through the var­i­ous sport as­so­ci­a­tions lo­cally, that or­gan­ise adapted sports events such as wheelchair bas­ket­ball, rugby, ta­ble ten­nis and archery, be­sides swim­ming and ath­let­ics. The com­pe­ti­tion is high and the re­quire­ments for qual­i­fi­ca­tion to Rio are very steep, much like the Olympics.

“The games also re­quire a large amount of ad­min­is­tra­tion and plan­ning. Ev­ery ath­lete wish­ing to par­tic­i­pate needs to travel abroad be­fore­hand to get clas­si­fied in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gory be­fore they can even con­sider tak­ing part in the games. The lo­gis­tics are com­plex. It’s not sim­ply call­ing up the lo­cal travel agent and book­ing a few flights”.

Thank­fully Ade­laide was ex­pe­ri­enced from the Lon­don games and has taken full con­trol of our par­tic­i­pa­tion. All the work be­hind the scenes is of­ten un­der­es­ti­mated, but crit­i­cal to a smooth ex­pe­ri­ence.

Also crit­i­cal is the per­for­mance on the day of the event. Nerves, stress and train­ing ac­cu­mu­la­tion can all con­trib­ute to a dif­fi­cult men­tal state that can have an im­pact on per­for­mance.

Thank­fully Is­abelle has been work­ing with Vlada in high-level com­pe­ti­tions al­ready, tak­ing part in the World Cham­pi­onships, in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and other in­ter­na­tional and na­tional com­pe­ti­tions thanks to the sup­port of the Aquatic Sports As­so­ci­a­tion of Malta.

In her opin­ion; “Vlada is strong willed and this helps her keep push­ing her lim­its and break her own fastest times, re­ally im­prov­ing over the last months ramp­ing up to the games. Ground train­ing in the gym and pi­lates are also part of her regime, as well as the right nu­tri­tion and rest. We’ve pre­pared well and I’m con­fi­dent Valda will do Malta proud.”

Fol­low­ing the re­cent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion of the IPC, Malta’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the games was at risk.

Bets­son has stepped in and helped fund the Malta Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee travel costs, sup­ple­ment­ing the IPC funds, en­abling the Mal­tese flag to fly in Brazil.

The gen­er­ous sup­port of Team Sport, Arena and Bor­tex will make sure our team is well equipped and look­ing smart at the Open­ing Cer­e­mony on the 7th Septem­ber. Md­ina Glass pre­pared a be­spoke Malta me­mento to present at the Ath­lete’s wel­come cer­e­mony.

To fol­low the games visit the Malta Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee Face­book page or the In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee web­site www.par­a­lympic.org

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