Zara's Going for Gold
One athlete from Leicestershire is counting down the days to a special event coming to the city this summer. BBC Leicester's Sonia Parmar joined the tennis star at a training session at the gym. Listen to the interview...
There's only four months to go before the start of Special Olympics Leicester 2009. It's the second time the city is hosting the games which start in July this year.
BBC Leicester has been following the progress of one local athlete from Kirby Muxloe.
Twenty-one year-old, Zara Jurenko has moderate learning difficulties, but when it comes to tennis, she's an ace on the court. She has a powerful backhand from the baseline, and this summer she's set to impress once again.
For the past 10 years, she has been winning medals all over the world, including gold for Great Britain in the ladies singles at the Special Olympics World Games in China.
Listen: Zara's Going for Gold
BBC Leicester's Sonia Parmar joined the tennis star and her personal trainer at a training session at the gym. Listen to the interview...
Special Olympic hopeful Zara has been working hard to ensure she's ready for the games in July and she doesn't let her disability get in the way.
"I struggle with reading and writing. I went to a special school, where my teacher got me into tennis. I've been playing since I was 11 years old, I'm still playing now and it's great!
"I have two different types of training sessions. One in the gym, where I'm running on the treadmill and working on my fitness.
"The second one is with my other trainer, Tony Blackburn, outside on the tennis court - hitting the ball, eye co-ordination, getting around the court and drinking lots of water."
Zara's personal trainer, Chris Power, starts the young athlete with a warm-up on the treadmill.
"I'm working on increasing Zara's strength and stamina so she can perform better in her games.
"The Special Olympics Leicester is a big event for Zara and she needs to be at the top of her game. I need to make sure that she's in the shape, which is going to allow her to perform her best, so she can win her games.
"We need to use the treadmill for running around, because she's going to be running around on the court. There's not much point using the bike, because it does replicate what she's going to be doing on the court enough."
Zara with her gold
Zara is a dedicated and determined sports-person and she will do whatever it takes to achieve her goal, even if this means pushing herself to the limit.
"I get up early, train before work and if it's my day off I'll train again. I eat healthily during my training time and get people to push me."
Chris says that Zara's getting fitter and better every time, but it's his job to motivate and train her to her maximum ability.
"I need to keep pushing her past what she's done before. So when she gets to the point where she wants to stop, I tell her that she needs to keep going for another 30 seconds or minute - pushing her past her point of failure.
"She puts a lot of effort into her training and she's very passionate about the sport. It would be really nice to see someone I know winning an Olympic gold medal."
Zara wants to win gold more than anything at this years Special Olympics in Leicester, because she feels that she's has doing all she can to get the medal around her neck.
last updated: 21/03/2009 at 10:14