Raising awareness of athletes with limited abilities

An outstanding performance by Russia's Paralympians in Vancouver has led to a number of sporting festivals for athletes with limited abilities. The fourth such event took place at the weekend.

Unfortunately, people living with limited abilities in Russia face more trouble than they would in other countries.

“My friend uses a wheelchair to move. And she just doesn't leave her flat during the winter, because there is no one to help her to get downstairs. And there are only a few places in Moscow with special entrances for wheelchairs,” Nina, festival participant, said.

In order to try and improve matters, Moscow's authorities have organized a special festival where people with limited abilities can compete in more than 20 sport disciplines, including tennis, volleyball and football.

“I won an arm wrestling event today. That's fantastic! I really like this festival, and will try to come here every year,” Ilya, another festival participant, said.

Russia's Paralympians drew wide acclaim in the country after their impressive performance at the Winter Games in Vancouver, where they topped the standings with a total of 38 medals.

The country's sports chiefs now have strong hopes the team will perform well in London in 2012.
However, it seems that not everything that needs to be done is being done for the Paralympians.

“Of course, we have had a huge reaction from the country's officials after Vancouver, and they turned their attention towards the Paralympians. But, financially, nothing has changed. For example, they want a swimming team to perform in London, but so far I haven't seen a lot of investment. The athletes are financed mostly by local authorities or their personal sponsors,” said Dmitry Volkov, three-time Olympic medalist.

Hopefully, with just over two years to go until the London Games, such events will help improve the outlook for Russia's Paralympians, and will allow all athletes with limited abilities to achieve something they can be proud of.