Ukraine’s world champion Nordic skier Iryna Bui has spoken candidly about the ‘emptiness’ she felt after failing to make it onto the podium at Sochi 2014, and how she hopes that a complete change in her mental approach will help her to success in 2014-15.
Bui, 19, was one of the favourites going into Sochi, after finishing amongst the best in the world in the overall women’s biathlon standing for 2013-14.
But by the time Bui had made it to the start line at the Laura Cross Country and Biathlon Centre, something fundamental had gone wrong for the then 18-year-old. She finished outside of the top 10 in three of her five cross-country and biathlon events.
“Sochi Paralympic Games were not successful for me, but still those were my results,” said Bui.
“After the Games I was physically and emotionally tired, even empty. At first, I wanted just to run away or hide from the world and myself.”
But after taking some time out to visit family, finish college and go on holiday, Bui realised that it was her mental approach which needed to change.
“The Paralympic Games 2014 made me think over and analyse a lot of things, what I did wrong in the past, what I should change,” she said. “I am still trying to understand what I really need in order to achieve positive changes and success, how to harmonise my physical abilities with my mind and thinking. I am studying my inner state and faith in what I am doing.”
For Bui, now just days away from the first World Cup of the season in Vuokatti, Finland, from 10-17 December, the new season holds the prospect of confirming or disproving her own reservations and a chance to defend her world title in Cable, Wisconsin, USA.
“The first start will be the most difficult one,” she said. “I will be able to compare my result with the ones from training. The first competition will show where I need to work more. I am sure it will warm up my body and soul, calm down my doubts and worries.”
Bui, who became the 10km biathlon standing world champion at just 17, will focus on reducing the pressure and managing the expectations she puts on herself. The expert team of coaches surrounding her, who have created one of the most formidable Nordic skiing teams in the world, will be instrumental to this.
“My current motto is ‘a sound mind in a sound body’,” Bui said. “Changes are not easy, but I am very optimistic and I am sure everything will be fine.
“I work, I want and I believe. I am interested in what I can achieve.”
The IPC Nordic Skiing World Cup in Vuokatti will feature cross-country and biathlon races between 10-17 December.
The 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships take place in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, between 28 January-1 February.