rowing started to grow with its competitive
opportunities that her former coach asked her to
give rowing a try again. Protopapa found her love
for the sport was still there.
It was in the leadup to the 2009 World Rowing
Championships, in April, that Protopapa began
training on ski rolls with the view of competing in
cross-country skiing at Vancouver. In November
2009, after winning world championship silver
in rowing in Poznan, she began skiing.
they work in a diametrically opposite manner.
Both sports need strong aerobic and anaerobic
training,” says Protopapa. “Also, the two opposite
seasons could be complementary: training at
altitude can be part of winter training for rowing
and the highly intensive rowing exercise
from March to September can improve and
optimise winter skiing preparation. These
sports are complementary, even in the
Paralympic Games periodicity: two years
separating the Summer Games and the
Winter Games allow practicing both
Asked what she likes about the two sports, she
replies: “Both in rowing and skiing I enjoy nature,
Protopapa’s comeback paid off when she and her crewmates in the legs, trunk and arms mixed coxed four raced to gold at the 2008 Paralympic Regatta in Beijing.
hard work and the chronometer as judge of a
Now Protopapa will once again focus on
rowing. “My experience with skiing has
been a six-month formative experience. I
will use it for rowing, with a final target:
having a good career for a long time,”
says the 50-year-old athlete.
Italy’s Paola Protopapa (far left)
celebrating Paralympic gold in
rowing along with her crewmates
in the legs, trunk and arms mixed
coxed four at the 2008 Paralympic
Games in Beijing, China.
“In Nordic skiing physiological work
is extremely hard. Even if I use
the same muscles while rowing,
© 2010 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Paola Protopapa of Italy training
during the 2010 Vancouver Winter