Vasili Shaptsiaboi may have been competing across both summer and winter Paralympic Games for almost eighteen years across three different sports, but there is still plenty he wants to achieve.
His latest milestone came earlier this year, with his first World Para Nordic Skiing Championships title in Finsterau, Germany. It was the highlight of a season that saw him finish fifth in the biathlon visually impaired World Cup overall rankings ahead of PyeongChang 2018.
With cross-country Paralympic gold still missing from his medal collection, Shaptsiaboi will be hoping 2018 will be another milestone year.
“We’ve started our preparation for PyeongChang 2018. We’ve created a certain training programme with my coaches which we will update during the season to improve my performance. I believe that I need to raise my speed, power and strength,” he said.
“I will be 100% focused on the Paralympic Games to produce my highest performance.”
The Belarusian, who took Paralympic gold in cycling at Athens 2004, also reflected on the changes to the profile of Paralympic sport from when he first started.
“The profile and image of Paralympic sport has certainly improved in recent years due to live stream broadcasts of major international competitions. When the audience has the chance to read about or watch the best athletes, then some of them may come to sport one day and try it,” he said.
Shaptsiaboi is well-placed to comment on Paralympic sport, having competed in athletics, cycling and Nordic skiing.
“The most memorable performance in my sporting career to date was winning the tandem cycling at Athens 2004, particularly as my tandem partner on that day is no longer with us. But I think my best performance last season was winning the biathlon at the World Championships.”
He feels last season has set him up well for the Games.
“I am completely satisfied with last season’s results because I finally won a gold medal. It has been a very complicated road that has continued for 14 long years!”
He does not think he needs to make any major changes ahead of PyeongChang, though – and even hinted at a return to cycling in the future.
“There’s nothing different in my preparation for a Paralympic year. We devote more time to using cycling as part of training. Who knows, I may have to return to the bike again someday.”
The Paralympic Winter Games will take place in PyeongChang from 9-18 March 2018.