Please enter a search term below.
2022 Winter Paralympics - An Interview with Zak Skinner
The Winter Paralympic Games are once again upon us. With this opportunity to highlight the great and inspiring feats of many disabled athletes from around the world, we thought we’d reach out to a friend of Compaid, British Paralympian and European long-jump and 100m champion, Zak Skinner, to answer a few questions about his time training during a global pandemic and his expectations regarding the winter games.
How did you been coping with day to day life during the pandemic?
For me the pandemic was a struggle, but I had it a lot luckier than a lot of people in the early stages. The track was allowed to stay open under strict circumstances which allowed us to carry on training and mentally, being able to have contact with people and get out of the house was amazing. It also took away a lot of the external distractions that can come in a lifestyle where there was nothing to actually do outside of training.
For me the hardest part was when everything started to ease, because nothing eased for us. It was still too risky to be mixing with many people. Apart from that and unfortunately catching Covid myself, I did manage okay and am glad to see we are moving past it all now.
Did the pandemic disrupt your training? If so, in what ways and how did you resolve the issue?
As mentioned earlier we were lucky in that the track stayed open, but the strict conditions meant the environment was strange and tight time slots meant we really had to cram everything in. We were always rushed with training and what we had to do, but these were minor disruptions compared to the other athletes who didn’t even have track access at all.
Do you work with any other disability organisations besides Compaid?
I have done a very small amount of work before with the RNIB, but apart from that I haven’t. So it’s great to be working closely with a charity that helps and supports other disabled people.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing? What events are you looking forward to watching and why?
As a massive fan of the games and sports all around so it’s all very exciting. I think the Winter Paralympics also offer a lot more insight into the abilities and possibilities of people with disabilities. Purely because you’d assume that these sports can’t be done with people with severe impairments. But then you see people skiing with one leg and blind athletes travelling down mountains at 100kph and it’s truly breath-taking.
My favourite event is the sloped skiing. It’s basically a race which is so exciting but also the margins are so small. For such a long and complicated course for it all to come down to thousands of a second makes it so exciting to watch. There is no room for error.
Is there one particular Winter Paralympic athlete who inspires you most, and why?
Millie Knight, she’s one of the blind skiers that we have in the games and I can relate to the disability which is great. Not only this but the events she competes in, I even think possible for the visually impaired.
It had been reported from previous games that the Paralympics have been able to change public perception about people with disabilities for the better. What are your thoughts on this and what have you been doing to raise the profile of disabled athletes?
2012 London games was huge for this. Half the team that came with me to Tokyo I’m sure were inspired by 2012. It offered an insight into disabled sport that had never been seen before.
We as elite athletes compete at a high level and want to win medals. However also as Paralympian we also showcase the possibilities and opportunities that are available to disabled people. Enabling them do and be more.
Do you have any advice for other people with disabilities who want to get into sports?
I think the biggest things I learnt that I would advise other people with is don’t limit yourself with perceived exportation of your ability. Give it all a go and if it’s not working you’ll find out. But it’s more damaging to not partake because of fear of failure. The best thing to do is give everything a go and I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself with how good you are with it.
We, like Zak, are excited to witness everything the Winter Paralympic Games have to offer, and will be cheering on the skilled and determined athletes as they continue to reach new heights individually, in their field and collectively with their teams and the world as a whole.