What Sport Can Do
My name is Margarita Gorbounova and I am an athlete with a vision impairment. I was born with cataracts in both eyes, which were later removed, leaving me with about 5 to 10% of normal vision. I was lucky to be born in an athletic family and to have been introduced to physical activity at a very young age.
I compete in cross country skiing for athletes with disabilities - also known as Para-Nordic Skiing. I have competed at all levels of the sport from locally to internationally. In 2010, I got to realize my greatest dream of competing at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. I also compete in road running races in the summer. Every year, I try to improve on my personal best times for 10 kilometer and half-marathon distances.
I believe sport has given me so much more than just these achievements, however. It has enabled me to develop the small amount of sight that I have so that I can get around without any outside help and be comfortable in most situations. It has given me a chance to get to know many great people and to form friendships with teammates that will last a lifetime. It has taken me to many places I would have never visited otherwise, such as the French Alps and the Black Forest of Germany. It has taught me discipline and determination, and how to set and achieve goals. And, most importantly, it has enriched my life with experiences and memories that will stay with me forever.
Getting outside and getting active is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only will it have a positive impact on your health, you will also learn new skills, make new friends and set new goals. There are programs all across the country for Canadians with disabilities who want to participate in sport or physical activity. You just have to find a sport that interests you. I encourage everyone to give physical activity a chance.