- 3 views
Stella Zakhovra Former Soviet World Championship Gold Medalist Puts Freedom Ahead of Honor
She won the World Cup when she was 16, and became an Olympic champion a year later. Stella Zakharova, a former champion gymnast from Ukraine, who once lived in a totalitarian regime, now cherishes the freedom she has learned from the west. [Stella Zakharova, Olympic champion]: 00.06 - 00.19 "We were constrained in many ways, we did not have freedom of speech, freedom of movement. We had very strict restrictions…” Although training in the former Soviet Union allowed her to win many medals, she believes that compared to the honor she received, freedom is truly commendable. 00.47 - 01.24 Then we were warned that we had no right to go to competitions and communicate with whomever we wanted, to give interviews without permission from our leaders. Officials would send certain people to travel with us, who stood behind us, and controlled every step we made…” Even though she was just a kid, it wasn’t easy to be a professional athlete under the restrictions of the regime. You were not allowed to say “I can't do it today,” because you have to do it. If the Soviet school fails to win a medal in the Olympics, it will be a very big deal. The same goes for Chinese athletes. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM [Stella Zakharova, Olympic champion]: 1.50- (2:30) "China is a very powerful country, but there is a dictatorship within their sports realm. They are trained, and are trained in very tough circumstances. It is just like how it was done with us in the Soviet Union.” After she moved to Sweden to live with her husband, only then did she learn that there is a completely different way to live. [Stella Zakharova, Olympic champion]: 1.25-1.39 "When we arrived there, we saw how people in a free democratic European country had freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of action. Without the greed, this society made me realize that it’s possible to live in a completely different way.” She believes that freedom can help people achieve a greater self-realization, and truly develop themselves in their careers. After the Soviet Union collapsed, she moved back to the Ukraine with her family. She then established the Stella Zakharova cup, an International Artistic Gymnastics Championship with the hope of bringing the lessons she has learned back to her home.