Stanislav Pozdnyakov: “Modern technology is removing boundaries between Olympians and Paralympians”

Today, ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov met with 22-year-old Beatrice Vio, Paralympic champion and multiple world and European champion in rapier fencing. In Moscow, the athlete presented her autobiographical book “If it seems impossible, then it can be done.”

The event, organised by the Italian Consulate General and the Embassy of Italy in Moscow, was attended by veterans of national fencing – three-time Olympic champion, President of the Russian Union of Athletes, Galina Gorokhova, four-time winner of the Games, Viktor Krovopuskov, two-time bronze medalist of the Paralympic judo games, Irina Kalyanova, three-time Paralympic champion in track-and-field athletics, Vice President of the Russian Paralympic Committee Olga Semenova.

Stanislav Pozdnyakov noted that Paralympic and Olympic fencing have always been closely linked.

– Yes, there are different rules for both sports, however, you still have a blade in our hand and a feeling of sports rivalry, – said the head of the Russian Olympic Committee. – Right before today’s meeting, together with our Italian colleagues, we discussed the possibility of Olympians and Paralympians performing in the same event. Such competitions, despite the difference in technical skill, are already held and contribute to the development of our unique sport. Modern technology allows athletes to train together, thereby removing boundaries.

Consul General of Italy in Moscow Francesco Forte, who moderated the conversation, shared his firsthand knowledge of the difficulties that people with disabilities face during the process of social and professional self-fulfillment.

– Beatrice Vio and her brilliant career are a vivid example of overcoming the hardships of life. Thanks to her strong character and family support, she managed not only to overcome a serious illness, but also to receive the highest awards in Olympic sports.

At the age of eleven, Bebè, as she is affectionately called in Italy, suffered a serious infectious disease. To save the girl’s life, doctors had to resort to amputation of both arms and legs. However, the terrible tragedy did not discourage Beatrice’s desire to practice fencing. With help from her father, Europe’s first special foil-prosthesis was developed for the future Paralympic champion.

– I started fencing at the age of 5, even before my illness, – said the Italian athlete. – It was sports and the dream of participating in the Olympic Games that helped me through the most difficult moments of my life. While in hospital, I was determined to return as soon as possible. People said that it was impossible, but every day of every year, I got up and continued to train and set the highest goals for myself.

– My training room is located in Rome in the barracks of the Carabinieri (similar to SC CSKA in Moscow), located next to the Italian Olympic fencing team. We interact a lot, share experiences and sometimes even practise fencing together, – added Beatrice Vio.

The famous Italian athlete also talked about her current studies at an American university for a degree in Sport Public Relations and Communication and after graduation, she dreams of uniting the Olympic and Paralympic committees not only of Italy, but of the whole world!

Galina Gorokhova, President of the Russian Union of Athletes, shared her own story of overcoming difficulties in the past.

– At the 1972 Games in Munich, I was almost a Paralympic competitor, – noted the three-time Olympic champion. – After having knee surgery, I could not train for a long time. Even walking was difficult! My coach cut out a knee pad from an automobile inner tube, which fixed my leg at an angle of 90 degrees. I could neither bend nor unbend my knee, and it was extremely difficult to be in such a position the whole time. Nevertheless, I managed to win the Olympic gold medal in team competitions and the bronze medal in individual competitions.

The renowned Soviet rapier fencer had kind words for Beatrice. – I have great respect for Paralympians! These are people who set an example for all of us on how to relate to life. Beatrice, we are one big happy fencing family!