The Special Olympics Winter Invitational Games will be a qualifying competition for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022. His family is confident that Aleksandr Nikolaev from the Republic of Bashkortostan will show his best when competing in alpine skiing. “Aleksandr is a grown-up, independent person. He has no worries. He does what he must and knows how to do, thus he is self-confident,” notes Elena, the athlete's mother.
Aleksandr Nikolaev is a multiple participant and winner of the Special Olympics municipal, republican, and all-Russian competitions. Back in 2017, aged 14, he won gold and bronze at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
Aleksandr started skiing in 2015. Elena occasionally learned from a friend that there was an adaptive alpine skiing club in Ufa. Elena says, “Word of mouth has worked. It was my total initiative to go there. We tried it, and it came out,” she recalls. At first, we had certain difficulties, but steadily Aleksandr was immersed in the training process, got used to the sports regime, and started participating in competitions. “Sport binds this way: after the regime has come, the son got more organized.”
Aleksandr had a man to take an example from. His older brother is a master of sports in swimming, and now, after graduating from university, he works as a coach in Saint Petersburg. Thus, there was slight competitiveness between them. Aleksandr also had an attempt at swimming, but he ended up skiing.
In Ufa, the young athlete trained with the coach, director of the adaptive club Kristina Kovalenko. In 2016, they set off for the qualifiers in Beloretsk for the first time and next year to Austria for the Special Olympics World Winter Games. According to Aleksandr’s mom, he got so impressed with this trip abroad. Over than this, at the competition the young athlete was alone, without relatives. “I feel confident about my children,” notes Elena, who has always been trying to teach her son independence.
Aleksandr's two-hour training would usually be three times a week. Last year he graduated from the Ufa boarding school for students with disabilities and enrolled in Moscow College, where he is studying to be a cook. Due to the pandemic, last year he had homeschool studies. It is good that in college they are always sympathetic when their student needs to leave for a competition.
The athlete brought three pairs of skis to the Invitational Games in Kazan to compete in three alpine skiing events: slalom, giant slalom, and super G. Afterwards he will again go back to Moscow.