“We had a long way to this win. There was not any pressure. For the first time we were in the finals. We did not have any fear of losing, as already the result was good. Besides, we would like to thank the audience who came to see the game. We felt their support.”
After missing out on the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the women’s sitting volleyball team from Russia climbed to the top of the European podium in 2013 by winning gold in Poland.
They met London 2012 bronze medallists Ukraine in the final, where they prevailed as the winners with a 3-2 result (25-16, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25, 10-15) in a nail-biting encounter.
They are now working with long-serving coach Alexander Ovsyannikov toward the 2014 WOVD Sitting Volleyball World Championships – also in Elblag – as they have high hopes of qualifying for their first ever Paralympic Games in 2016.
“Poland was one of the best memorable tournaments. There were lots of very dynamic and bright games,” said Ovsyannikov.
“We had a long way to this win. There was not any pressure. For the first time we were in the finals. We did not have any fear of losing, as already the result was good. Besides, we would like to thank the audience who came to see the game. We felt their support.
“As for the pressure we feel it more now, as our responsibility is very high. The World Championships are our goal now, as there will be a first chance of selection for the Paralympic Games.”
Russian player Tatiana Ivanova discovered the sport while she was studying at University in Moscow at 17, and she is an integral part of the team. For her efforts with the team in Poland, she was given the honour of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
However, after thriving to triumph in Poland, Ivanova realises the tough task ahead at the World Championships.
“We understand that now it will be even more difficult to win because our competitors will prepare even harder,” she said.
“At the World Championships we will meet such strong teams from Brazil, Ukraine, the Netherlands, USA and China.
“From my experience in Poland, I can say that the Netherlands are very good at tactics. They see the manner of playing of the counterparts and use it well against our opponents the Ukraine team. Ukraine are very strong physically but we enjoyed playing against them.”
Nonetheless, Ovsyannikov is proud of what his team has achieved and said that missing out on London 2012 was probably for the best because it has made their development as a team stronger.
“We have improved a lot, and we have never stopped improving,” he said.
“I can even say that there are some good points from not going to London as we did our work in a smooth way. We had a lot of training, we were searching for new athletes, and with the help of the Russian NPC we have financial support. Now we see the result.”