The Ukrainian goalkeeper takes inspiration from his son as he heads towards the Rio 2016 football 7-a-side competition.04 Jul 2016
Ukraine goalkeeper Kostyantyn Symashko battles with Alexey Chesmin (L) of Russia as they compete in the football 7-a-side gold medal match between Russia and the Ukraine at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
By Jekaterina Bistrova and the IPC
Ukrainian football 7-a-side goalkeeper Kostyantyn Symashko has given an emotional account of his preparations for his third Paralympic Games at Rio 2016.
His team will go to Brazil as the current world No. 1 team, recently confirming their dominance at tournaments in Salou, Spain, and Arnhem, the Netherlands.
The 35-year-old is approaching Rio 2016 with butterflies in his stomach, especially watching the UEFA European Championships.
“I am replaying in my head the moments that I might have in my games,” Symashko said. “I always draw a golden parallel between able-bodied football and Paralympic football. Like this step by step I am preparing myself for this Paralympic games getting psychologically ready.”
The Paralympic Games are a chance for the world’s best CP footballers to reach the top of their game in front of a global audience. That fact is not lost on Symashko as he looks towards his own future.
“Maybe it sounds ambitious but there is a dream to have a happy retirement from football. I am not sure football will be present in 2020 games. I would like to finish on a high note this Paralympic games. This will be the most important.”
Symashko’s biggest support in pursuing this goal is not only his team but also his family, his wife and son.
“I look into the eyes of my son and I mutter that I will win for you this Championship! Together with the team we will do it! And this cheers me up! Everything is in our hands!”
The Ukrainian team is doing everything it can to reach Brazil in peak physical condition. Their goalkeeper said that the tournament in Salou was more about testing themselves and assessing the form of their opponents, rather than winning.
However reflecting on his experiences, Symashko said: “The level is soaring. It is evident that this Paralympic Games will be the fiercest. The rivals’ capacity is very huge.”
In Rio, Ukraine will face Ireland, Great Britain and Brazil in Group A. They played both Brazil and Great Britain in Salou and Symashko is clear on where their strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as those of his own team.
“Now we are playing goal-to-goal with Great Britain,” he said. “They are both technically advanced and physically strong. They are a huge rival and competitor.
“Brazilians are more technically skilled. If they add a bit more of fitness they will be on such a level that it would be too hard for us to play against them.
“We are trying to play against these teams using our physical advancement: a bit of technique and peak physical fitness and we will be able to achieve our goals.”
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)