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Disability Sports in Estonia: Reflections by a Para-Olympian

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Disability Sports in Estonia: Reflections by a Para-Olympian

Four time Para-Olympian Marge Korkjas discusses the rise of disability sport in Estonia, sources of inspiration, how she has now become a role model for others with disabilities and the awareness of the contemporary Estonian society around disability issues

Personal inspiration and motivation

Estonian visually impaired athletes participated under a Soviet Union unified team in the Seoul Paralympics (1988). Three medals in swimming were brought to Estonia. Medallists were met at home as real heroes. Government, as well as local government, paid great attention to the event, not to mention all Estonian people.

I can say that their achievement was a source of inspiration for me. I have participated in four Paralympics (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004) and brought 7 different Olympic medals to Estonia.

I was an active disabled athlete for about twenty years. Thanks to sport I have travelled a lot, made friends, got positive view on life, good education, pleasant work and knowledge.

Motivating others
After Sydney Paralympics a man who lost his vision in an accident contacted me. He told that after the accident, I had been source of inspiration for him. Today (12 years later), this man is an active sportsman and enjoys his life. I am happy that my enthusiasm and motivation has been passed on.

Paralympic Movement in Esthonia at the present age
In 2011, the first Paralympic Day took place in Estonia in Tallinn. The aim of this day was to introduce sporting opportunities for disabled people more widely and to all society, also to give a chance to practice some sports (Showdown, chess and basketball for the blind, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, sledge hockey). This event was very popular, and confirmed the lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding disability sport.

The conclusion is that disabled sportsmen and disability sport should be taken closer to people. At present, the Paralympic movement in Estonia only receives increased attention before and after the Paralympic Games.

The beginning of the Esthonian Paralympic Movement
The Republic of Estonia restored its independence in 1991. In the same year an NPC was founded and the independent Estonian team joined the Paralympics. Disability sport in Estonia did previously exist. However, only visually impaired and deaf people were active.

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Article type

News

Author

Marge Korkjas

Published

Monday, May 28, 2012 - 23:00