The Winter Deaflympics that are held in Khanty-Mansiysk these days are not only competitions for medals, goals, points and seconds, this is also a chance for deaf people to adapt to the society we are all living in.
At the moment more than 360 million people with hearing disorders are living in the world. According to the World Health Organization, 165 million of them are older than 65 y.o., 32 million deaf and hard of hearing people are younger than 15 y.o..
It is impossible not to notice such people. They also want to live a normal life and to be successful. Sport is one of the ways for them for self-realization and self-respect.
«I started working with deaf athletes 5 years ago, – says a coach of men’s deaf curling team of Russia Oleg Prigorenko. – They were keeping aloof; other athletes were not communicating with them. Not children, not adults, not Paralympic athletes. Hearing people don’t understands their signs, deaf people cannot hear words. But they started communicating with each other and all barriers were removed. Now it is one big family! Deaf people have changed, now they are not afraid to go out, became more confident».
Since 1924 when the first Deaflympics were held these competitions are aimed to cultivate healthy lifestyle and to integrate deaf people into the society.
Deaflympics in Khanty-Mansiysk have one more function – they help the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) to recover after the cancelling of previous Deaflympics in 2011 in Slovakia. Four years ago the competitions were cancelled just a few days before the start of the Games, when some athlete has already arrived on the venue.
In July 2013 Valery Rukhledev had become the president of ICSD, and in 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk has received an honor to host the Winter Deaflympics. «The sport infrastructure of Khanty-Mansiysk corresponds to all international standards, – says Valery Rukhledev. – Everything is great here! All my foreign colleagues say: «Super!» Everything is well-organized. I see that you have done a good job. So, wedon’tregretthatwechoseKhanty-Mansiysk. Probably, before the trip here someone was thinking that he will see taiga with bears walking along the streets, but now everybody understand that Khanty-Mansiysk is a modern sport city with hospitable and friendly people», – added he.
Athletes agree with the president of the International Committee. Many of them say that sport venues of Khanty-Mansiysk are very good. For example, “Arena Ugra” is a home of the local ice-hockey club “Ugra” that plays in the Kontinental Hockey League. The Alexander Filipenko Winter Sport Center hosts races of Biathlon World Cups and World Championships. In the alpine skiing complex “Khvoyny Urman” national competitions were taken place. One more advantage of Khanty-Mansiysk is that all sport venues are placed within walking distance from each other.
Besides, Khanty-Mansiysk showed new standards of organizing and conducting Deaflympics, thus giving a chance for deaf athletes to be noticed by the international sport community. A delegation of Turkey – a country that will be hosting next Summer Deaflympics – came to Ugra to adopt its experience.