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The one-man teams of Special Olympics

he Macedonian delegation consists of coach Jovan Jovanovski, Alpine skier Bojan Trajkovski and Sports Director Agan Redjepagikj. (Photo: Deyan Spasov)
by Jakob Romeborn and Deyan Spasov, AIPS Young Reporters

SCHLADMING, March 20, 2017 – The more the merrier? Not for Armenia and FYR Macedonia, the two smallest delegations in Special Olympics Winter Games 2017 in Austria - with only one participant each.

“We are a small but proud delegation”, says Macedonian Sports Director Agan Redjepagikj.

A one man team does not mean that it can’t be successful though, as FYR Macedonia’s Bojan Trajkovski showed clearly on Sunday with a silver medal in Super G.

“It was hard, but it was great. I’m really happy here, and that’s more important than to have a medal.” says Bojan Trajkovski.

So far he’s enjoying it in Austria very much, not only because of the medal but because of all the friends he has made and how happy everybody is during the Games.

“He has told us a 100 times already how happy he is here,” says Agan Redjepagikj.

“Sport gives people like him the opportunity to socialize. Now he is studying in a special school in Skopje, but without school or sport he would have to stay at home only with his friends”, says Bojan’s coach Jovan Jovanovski.

“Sport is the magic that bring them out of anonymity,” Agan Redjepagikj puts it.

With no more than eight days of total practice in skiing ever before the Games he came to Austria with a great determination. Back in FYR Macedonia he also participates in three other sports for Special Olympics; football, basketball and swimming, but his true favourite discipline is up in the mountains.

“I like skiing the most,” says Bojan Trajkovski.

“He was a complete beginner but now he has made it to the top. I’m really happy for him,” says coach Jovan Jovanovski.

Special Olympics in Austria is the third time the Macedonian program has been part of the Winter Games, and also with their smallest delegation yet. That was not the plan though - less than a week before the Games FYR Macedonia had two athletes set to compete in Alpine Skiing, but an unfortunate sickness led to Bojan Trajkovski being the only one going to Schladming.

“The international organisation of Special Olympics gave us the opportunity to come with two athletes. Until the last minute we hade two athletes, but the second one got ill unfortunately and now she is back home.,” says Agan Redjepagikj.

Despite being founded 13 years earlier than FYR Macedonia, in 1990, Armenia has so far participated in just one Special Olympics World Winter Games, 2013 in South Korea where they sent two athletes. This year their participant is Sipan Tsaghkyan who does Cross Country Skiing.

“The Special Olympics give me joy. I socialize with a lot of people and loves that you get smiles from everybody here,” says Sipan Tsaghkyan, who starts his competition tomorrow in the 1K Time Trail Freestyle discipline.


Sipan Tsaghkyan is the sole athlete representing Armenia in Special Olympics, competing in Cross country skiing. (Photo: Deyan Spasov)

The reason for Armenia to only send one athlete is mainly because of economical issues. If they were to get more funding they could send more athletes, but now that is not the case.

“We have a lot of athletes in Armenia so if we could get more funds we could send more of them. We are literally working every day to find funding and bring in more resources for the next game,” says Armenian Sports Director Artak Israelyan.

That is no reason for Armenia to be downhearted though, as they are still hoping to go home from the game successful.

“I hope we will get at least one medal. I know that Sipan has the qualities for it and is in good shape,” says Artak Israelyan.

Follow Jakob on Twitter @jakobromeborn

The Young Reporters Programme has been made possible thanks to the support of the European Union's Erasmus + programme

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