Eighteen medals, half of them gold, won at the world championship in shooting national Paralympic team of Ukraine. The championship was held in late October in Sydney, Australia, gathered a record number of shooters — three hundred athletes from 55 countries. The title and five medals brought home a 32-year-old Paralympic from the Dnieper Irina Leahu, set a world record in high-speed shooting from a pistol from a distance of ten meters.
In addition to high-profile sports victories and the list of medals, information about this talented athlete there. Says Irina, she’s not a public person and the interview does not. But for “FACTS” made an exception.
As previously reported “FACTS” Ukrainian girl Anastasia Sapsay became world champion in Sambo, and high jumper Yaroslav Maguchy, which created a sensation at the world Cup in athletics, was named the best young athlete of Europe.
“If you think about soup at a crucial moment, the shot will turn out poorly”
Ira, congratulations on your dizzying success! Tell us how you prepared for the world Cup.
— At first we had a two-week camp in Odessa, then went to Germany, where had been prepared prior to the beginning of October. Fees went very well, I managed to get close to the result to which I aspired, and then show it directly at the Championships in Sydney.
In Australia you fought alongside athletes who have both hands. I can not ask about your injury…
— I don’t have the right hand and right forearm. This is the result of childhood trauma. I come from a village, we had a large farm — cows, sheep. And machine grinding grain. Two rollers that spun the reels of this machine was not protected and I got there. I was then four years, so little is remembered from that period. But remember that since the childhood tried to be independent and self-sufficient. Still really don’t like feeling sorry for me, because I see physical feature. But sometimes allow me to help — not as a person with a disability, but simply as the girl. Can be weak.
But not in sports. From the beginning, when I took the first steps in the shooting, was very difficult. Came home and called her mother, complained about how hard it is, saying that I can’t do anything. Mom replied: “Heavy drop”. After these words, I always took himself in hand and with new forces went to the next exercise. Mom knew that these words will support me and encourage better than any of the consolations and pity. Even now, if suddenly the competition in second place, she always asks: “why not first?” Although I know she’s still happy for me, regardless of the place that I occupied.
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— What was the most difficult in the championship?
Concentration, ability to focus on the right actions and thoughts. If you think about soup at a crucial moment, the shot will turn out poorly. Shoot for a ten eight, will lose points.
— Do you have some special ritual running which can be sure to win?
— We have a completely unpredictable sport. Won today, but tomorrow everything goes wrong and you, for some reason, can’t get to the target. The most important a ritual for me before the competition is to sleep well and listen to your favorite music before the start. Sometimes, for months listening to the same tune or song, and may not even know the name and artist. Just find music that gives me the desired emotions and helps to get in the right mood.
32-year-old Paralympic from the Dnieper Irina Leahu (fourth from left) at the world Cup in Sydney has set a world record in speed pistol shooting
— Your account has two world records among Paralympic athletes: in the mix and exercise among women.
— In the mix with Alexey Denisyuk we set a record with huge margin. The boys, who took second place was as much as 15 points less. The second record I set in the individual competition shooting women’s air pistol from which have to do 60 credits shots in 75 minutes. In the finals of eight people, and then with each successive shot someone drops out. In the end there were two finalists, who compete with each other. Most of the bullets placed in the top ten — and he won. I was amounting to 235.8 points. Is — a Paralympic record.
— You received five medals: four gold and one bronze.
— “Bronze” me for exercise, which involved both men and women. In the first part of the exercise, we shoot from a small-caliber pistol at nedvigemosty target from a distance of 25 metres. In total we had 30 shots. The second part is called “silhouette”, it is very entertaining. There is a big target, huge. On the command “ready” aim at the center, seven seconds before the command “start” drop the hand at an angle of 45 degrees, and when the green light illuminates for three seconds should have time to pick it up and shoot. And so five times in a row.
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I got the bronze, becoming the ninth in the individual competition. This is a very good result for women’s super. But the gold medals won in team and individual competition. Most proud of the shooting, where he set a record. It was such passions! Imagine in the finals where only me and my opponent from Iran, we were equal. I pulled ahead only in the last two shots. Happy that we were able to overcome tension and fear.
“I appointed a presidential scholarship in the amount of nine thousand hryvnia per month”
— How did you spend your first night in the status of world champion? What pampered?
— Answered the congratulations of friends, family, colleagues. Have not had time to the hotel to arrive, and my phone was blowing up. I tried to reply to everyone, to thank everyone. And indulged himself with sleep. Allowed unprecedented luxury — slept until 10 am.
— The Sydney managed to walk?
— Yes, on the eve of the championship, because we came a day early. Walked around the Park, looked at the Opera house, the bridge. Particularly impressed by the kangaroo, who live directly behind the shooting range. In the morning, when he went to the competition, these cute animals were grazing herds, I’ve even seen moms kingurutik with the children. So pretty!
— How did it happen that you became interested in a sport that is not considered feminine?
— Tell the story. October 7, 2008, in our apartment phone rang. In the receiver a male voice answered: “Irina, Hello. Would you like to try yourself in shooting?” I have not even heard that there is such a sport, but agreed.
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— Who was it?
Trainer in shooting. I then entered Odessa University named after Mechnikov in the Department of chemistry. In p. E. we were divided into groups health. And I was interested in the Odessa school shooting — they must submit applications to different universities and train the guys with the physical characteristics. Here they found out about me and invited. I came to the shooting range and hit all those that never missed the target. After two months of training already took third place in the championship of Ukraine. In 2010, there were competitions in France and Spain. We were preparing for the world championship, which took place in Croatia. In the individual competition I was six.
— And in 2016, went to the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
— Yes, but in the final, unfortunately, was not hit. This competition was a completely different level than those in which they participated. And I at that time were not ready to realize it. I thought, just unable to perform well in the Ukrainian League, hence, ready for the Paralympics. Only now, after almost four years, you begin to understand what I’m doing and why.
— Well, why are you doing this?
— Shoot? Because I like discipline, like to win yourself. We are all sometimes lazy, can pity yourself, but the sport makes every day to work hard and improve. The most important thing.
“Sport makes every day to work hard and improve. This is the most important thing,” says world champion Irina Leahu
— And the financial side? How well our government provides athletes representing Ukraine at the international level?
— Thanks to the support of the centre “Invasport” I have the opportunity to participate in international competitions and visits to the training camp not only in Ukraine but also abroad. Last year I took second place at the world Championships in Korea, after which I was appointed a presidential scholarship in the amount of nine thousand hryvnia per month, and there was a nice bonus in the form of bonuses.
— You’ve been to competitions in many countries. Where did you like most?
We have traveled to Europe, fly every year in the US, last year was at the world Championships in Korea, visited Thailand this year that went to Australia. But I can’t say which is best because each country has its own charm. The Germans like their punctuality and organization. The French are just very interesting. Australians are striking in how they are free in everything — from food and clothes to their own lives. They seemed to us some kind of aliens, not of this world. But we Australians, apparently, was interesting. When walking the streets of Sydney, so we were looking at.
“Over the years, curbed the habit to follow people’s reactions to my physical feature”
To people with disabilities they probably are more tolerant and tactful than the Ukrainians?
I have no idea. The fact that over the years I have curbed the habit to follow people’s reactions to my physical feature. Simply don’t notice who’s staring at me and who’s not.
— What do you do in free from sports time?
— If you have a few free days, I go to my parents in a village in Odessa oblast. At my mother’s house, the farm — chickens, ducks, a vegetable garden, which I also dig. I even have my own plot of strawberries every year to weed, plant, harvest. Try to meet with friends — friends from school. Love to go visiting and receiving guests — just drink tea, roast potatoes and chat. Now live in the river where I train. In the evening very tired, want to be alone, to relax in peace and quiet, watch a movie, read a book, take the time to learn a foreign language. For happiness does not need much. In addition, I have a cat who needed my care. If you leave it for a long time, offended.
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— You masterfully shot from a firearm. And if you have a personal gun that could be used as a means of self-defense?
— No, your own weapons I have. Not ready to shoot people under any circumstances. I am a very peaceful person.
— And how do people react on learning that you are a professional shooter?
— Friends already know, I am not surprised. New acquaintances often say, “Oh, cool, I’d like to try.” I invite them into my shooting range.
— And that coming from?
Came two girlfriends. After the shooting, emotions are simply overwhelmed. But then one time it does not matter. Shooting isn’t a game, not entertainment. To achieve success, you need to work.
— What are your plans for the future?
— Next year is fully dedicated to the Paralympic games in Tokyo. This time I prepare very seriously. You need to Polish what we did in Australia in the world Cup, to fasten, to remember, to automate. It is the right road to success. In any case, I believe it.
As previously reported “FACTS”, the inhabitant of Odessa Angelique Telugu recognized as the best karate of the world in weight category to 55 kilograms. A Ukrainian synchronized swimmers won the historic “gold” at the world Cup.
Photo courtesy of Irina LEAHU
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