Still just 21 and one of the most successful swimmers in the pack, Belarus’s multiple Paralympic, world and European champion Ihar Boki has his head firmly down in the lead up to the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships.
The competition in Funchal, Portugal, from 30April - 7 May, represents an important stop on the road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for Boki, who claims he is “ready for all the surprises.”
The 16-time world champion put in another outstanding performance last year at the World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain.
Boki claimed five world records and a total of six golds, with a sweeping success across his largest ever schedule in the S13 class in the 100m individual medley, 200m individual medley, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 100m butterfly.
A gold in the 50m free was a first for Boki, having won silver in London 2012. His national achievements also reached another staggering level as he became the fastest 200m and 400m freestyle swimmer in para or able-bodied swimming in Belarus.
It is easy to see why Boki has been dubbed ‘The Beast’ by peers and pundits. But it is a title he firmly rejects.
“I heard that I am called so, but I do not think about myself in such a way. I think I am just an athlete wanting to do his best in sport,” he said.
Perhaps it is this modesty alongside his sharp rise to success which makes Boki a firm favourite at home, as Belarus’s most successful Paralympian, and abroad, claiming Male Para-Swimmer of the year in the 2015 Swim Swam Swammy Awards.
Boki shows incredible maturity for his years and is fiercely focused: ”Everyday life is a strict training regime, it is absolutely necessary to have success in sport.”
And so far his training is going exactly to plan. Boki’s only second place finish in Glasgow came in the 100m breaststroke in which he lost to his teammate, Uladzimir Izotau. He admits the event is not his strongest, but believes his training will see him reach a new level of success in Funchal and beyond.
The 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships will feature around 450 swimmers from 50 countries and will be shown live at the event website.
Tickets are available for free download.