"I feel free, so free in dancing but it is hard work and very difficult to dance with a wheelchair, but we did it!”
This weekend (7-8 December), the 2013 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships take place in Tokyo, Japan.
Featuring around 160 athletes from nearly 20 countries, it will be a show not to miss. But there is one couple in particular who will be looking to shine at the Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium.
Russian couple Galina Ryzhkova and Viacheslav Osipov dominate in the mixed combi Latin class 2, having won the 2013 Continents Cup in Moscow, Russia and the 2013 Rheinsberg competition in Germany.
Both Rhyzkhova, who dances in a wheelchair, and Osipov, agree that Latin is their favourite style of dance, but it is the Rumba which is their signature dance. Osipov explains why:
“My favourite dance is the Rumba because it’s slow, it has beautiful music, it is about relationships.
I feel free, so free in dancing but it is hard work and very difficult to dance with a wheelchair, but we did it!”
Having met six years ago at a competition in St Petersburg, the couple have danced together ever since. Despite this being a relatively small period of time for the average professional dance couple to be competing together, Rhyzkhova and Osipov rose quickly to the top.
They head into the World Championships as world No.1 and, speaking from a training camp for the Russian team ahead of the competition, they explain the physical demands of maintaining that form:
“We train for four days a week for two-three hours a day.
“When competition is close, we train for seven days a week. I do fitness training because I want to be strong. Sometimes I do ballet because it helps me to keep fit”, Osipov said.
There are couples who could challenge them to the world title they look so destined to claim in the Japanese capital.
Ukraine’s Ivan Zamiga and Olena Dankevych, current world No. 3 couple, surprised the Russians at the Holland Dans Spektakel in March by beating them to first place. Rhyzkhova and Osipov’s team mates and world No. 2 couple Sergey Antonov and Olga Beliaeva, could also be a threat.
The country are sending one of the biggest teams to the competition and there a number of potential medal hopes in other categories.
This time around 32 year-old Rhyzkhova and Osipov explain their intentions for Tokyo and reveal a very special reason to seal victory.
“Only to win! It is my birthday and would be a great present”, explained Osipov who will celebrate his 24th birthday this week.
The 2013 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships will take place from 7-8 December at the Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium.