Ukrainian Nordic skier combining sport and studies on path to PyeongChang04 Dec 2017
Taras Rad won three silvers at this year's World Championships in Finsterau.
ⒸIvo Gonzalez - Pocog
By Tim Norris | For the IPC
“The moment I was awarded my first medal I knew I wanted to compete at the Winter Games one day. This was an unbelievable feeling. It inspires you and motivates you"
Taras Rad is quickly becoming one of the biggest names on the Nordic skiing circuit.
The teenager finished second in the sitting biathlon World Cup rankings last season, won three silvers medals at his first World Championships and will have high hopes for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games from 9-18 March.
The Ukrainian 17-year-old knows it is not easy to handle success at such a young age and shares the life lessons everyone can learn from sport.
“It was my first coach who invited me to participate at the Ukrainian Championships. That was a beginning of my career in Nordic skiing,” he explained.
He soon realised he wanted to become a Paralympic champion one day.
“The moment I was awarded my first medal I knew I wanted to compete at the Winter Games one day. This was an unbelievable feeling. It inspires you and motivates you.”
Now that Rad is established on the skiing circuit, he has to balance the demands of competing with his school work.
“Of course it’s very difficult. I study via Skype when I’m at the training camp. Then I come back home and pass the exams.
“I understand sport and studying can’t go together. I know education is an important part of everybody’s life, but sport means everything to me and I do my best to find the balance.”
As he lists his favourite subjects, his passion for sport is clear.
“Anatomy, sport games and biochemistry [are my favourite subjects]. But I like gymnastics the most.”
Despite having to balance school and sport, he sees his age as a positive thing.
“My age is my advantage. Experience means a lot in sport, but my age and intense training helps me to compete on an equal level with my rivals.”
While not everyone can go on to play sport at a professional level, Rad believes there are lots of things anyone can learn from sport.
“Sport makes you more confident. It teaches you how to cope with barriers, challenges, loss. Never give up. Improve yourself. It also makes you more open to the world. I would invite people to do the sport they like and to inspire others.”
The Paralympic Winter Games will take place in PyeongChang from 9-18 March 2018.