Roman Zinurov: Special Olympics gave me life, sport, and friendship


For over four years, the most titled athlete of the Special Olympic Committee of Saint Petersburg, Roman Zinurov, has been skating on the ice together with Anna Yakovleva. He has been involved in figure skating for more than 20 years and does not think about leaving this sport. “I do like it!” the athlete admits.

One can say that Roman took up figure skating by chance. In the early 90s, the coaches of the Special Olympic Committee came to their boarding school. Having selected several guys, they were advised to look at another boy who was a good dancer. “I really loved physical education and sports. They offered me to do a pistol, so I did it,” Roman recalls. First, I had classes in a gym, and then followed the trainings on the ice – initially on hockey skates, and figure skates next.

March 1993 was the first time Roman traveled to the international competitions in Austria – to the Special Olympics World Winter Games. “I met Oleg Protopopov and Lyudmila Belousova there. I then rose to the third level, ad Protopopov helped me to do the arched backs,” the athlete recalls.

Afterward, he competed in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in the USA, Japan, South Korea but he enjoyed the trip to Toronto in 1997 the most. That competition gave rise to a friendship that is going on to date regardless of the distances.

At competitions in Canada, Roman took first place. The American athlete liked his performance. “Brandon saw how well I was skating and told his mom Renae that he wanted to get to know me. We knew each other and together went to the outdoor skating rink,” Roman still recalls those competitions with warm feelings. The guys made pen pals, and after the tournament in Alaska, Brandon and his mother invited Roman to visit them. He admits that he was very pleased to get such an invitation. He visited his friend more than once after that, and they would always go to the rink together. Like Roman, Brandon, keeps playing sports. Now they are texting and calling each other. Roman really wants his friend to come to Kazan for the World Winter Games in 2022.

For a long time, Roman performed in single figure skating, and 4 years ago, he paired up with Anna Yakovleva. According to the athlete, when he performed alone, he was experiencing excitement; jumping was the most difficult. When performing with Anya, Roman is trying to do his best to make them look like a couple on the ice. “You need to give her a hand, make a crossover with her, support,” the athlete explains. “Everyone says that we are a beautiful couple. My coaches are very happy.”

At the Special Olympics Russia Winter Invitational Games in Kazan, Roman and Anna presented a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ short program. “Everything came out, everything was fine, we got points. Since there was a short program, we were not very worried,” the athlete shared after the performance. In the free routine, they will have to perform jumps – double salchow and axel. “I am very worried. Although there are no opponents, I have to show what I can do and not to fall for the jump to go well. You have to jump in sync to make the audience happy,” the athlete said.
At the competition, Roman and Anna demonstrated the Olympic champion Tatyana Navka ‘Snow’ exhibition performance to the Philipp Kirkorov’s song. “She really liked it!” Roman exclaimed.

Athletes are training at the figure skating academy. Roman manages to engage not only in his favorite sport but also plays basketball, participated in competitions in Dubai.
According to Roman, you can feel athletic spirit of at the competition, joy is visible in their eyes. And the athlete personally tries in every possible way to support and encourage young athletes, who sometimes do not succeed in everything.

Athlete is certain in his words, “Special Olympics movement gave me life, sport and friendship and certainly health.”