Vladyslava Kravchencko to represent Malta at Rio 2016 Paralympics
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