I Decided to Make a Debut

By Elena Mukhina

Moscow News, No. 36, 1987   Resolution.  How valuable this trait is in sport, how important it is in life but how hard it is to retain it in oneself.  I thought a long time ago about sharing my opinions with sport fans, but couldn't bring myself to do it.  I think the injury I got when training in 1980, which made me bedridden for so many years, took too much of my strength, and still does.

Today, quite often I've got to do for the first time the things that were natural before.  To be honest, I'm tired of my "debuts," though they are necessary.  That's probably the reason why I kept postponing the day or the hour when I'd first try my hand at journalism.

I was helped to do this by the people around me throughout the long years of my illness, my "Training" interview, printed this spring by Moscow News, and the letters and meetings that followed it.

They came from Moscow, Leningrad, Kharkov, Murmansk, Odessa, Riga, Salavat, Rogun, from Cuba and Japan.  The letters contained advice, requests, reminiscences and ponderings.  I realized from them that I'd, probably, have something and someone to write about.  They only thing is it is so far hard to answer every letter.  My hand is learning to hold a pen.  Therefore, this first item could not even be called the test of a pen properly, because I'm dictating it to a dictaphone.

After the "Training" interview I got to know Tatyana Mikhailova, a masseuse from the Moscow Academic Choreographic School.  She is an assistant to Professor Vladimir Nazarov, the inventor of the biomechanical stimulator.  Tatyana offered her help.  A person in my situation literally grabs at any opportunity to overcome illness.  But, to be honest, I accepted the help without confidence.  As our lessons went on, my suspicions gradually got lost.  Of great importance was also the fact that I had met an understanding responsive person, who supported me also morally, especially at moments when the fatigue from the many-year-long treatment took the upper hand.

One other thing which helped me to get over my illness was the book -- the album "The Wind's Journey" which I got this summer.  Tomihiro Hoshino sent it to me as a gift through the Novosti Press Agency (APN) in Tokyo.  His life is somewhat like mine.

He used to be a PT instructor.  He fell during a lesson and got an injury that stopped him from moving his arms and legs.  Tomihiro Hoshino spent nine years in a hospital.  He is still being treated, only now at home in his village Higashi-mura.  However, he found the strength not to limit his life to overcoming his illness alone.  He writes and prints in periodicals verses, drawings and reproductions of pictures which he draws with a brush held in his mouth.

He writes in the book which APN has partially translated for me:  "I thought that if I have a heart, capable of admiring beauty, then why couldn't I paint pictures?  Orchids were the first thing I depicted in a picture."

I thought of the book for several days and looked at the drawings over and over again.  I suppose, I haven't yet understood everything that the poet and artist wanted to say.  But I think I got the main thing: It is possible to work and be useful to people even in such a condition.  The book was for me an appeal to act, and I'm thankful to my new friend.

A telephone call came late in July from the USSR State Sports Committee to finalize my home address.  They said that the address was necessary for Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee.  He was in Moscow and decided to see me.

We talked for some 20 minutes.  They IOC President spoke sympathetically, with real concern.  He asked me about my plans and problems, spoke with a readiness to help and noted that I'd changed for the better since 1982 when he presented the Olympic Order to me.  He said that the IOC was "always at my service," and as soon as I'd feel able to visit some international competition, I should let him know.

He said that he'd read my interview and that the IOC welcomed athletes taking up journalism.  He said that their writings in the press helped the IOC work and study issues facing the Olympic movement.

This meeting also urged me to make my debut in journalism.

This page was created on April 6, 2001.
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