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Potapova wins prestigious award

Date: December 17, 2021

Category: Judo

The Russian Paralympic Committee’s Viktoriya Potapova has won the prestigious BP Courage Award at the 2021 Paralympic Sport Awards.

Potapova, who won bronze in the judo in the women’s up to 48kg at Tokyo 2020, received the accolade during an online ceremony on Thursday (16 December).

At the age of two, Potapova was diagnosed with a malignant tumour of the eye and by the age of 10 she had lost her vision. Her life changed when she took up judo and she was able to compete at three Paralympic Games from 2004-2012, taking bronze each time.

However, in 2017 Potapova was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. She underwent two operations, where they removed the upper jaw, part of the bones of the nose, part of her eye socket and all affected soft tissues. Not only did she beat cancer again, but she used it as the motivation to get to another Paralympics, taking bronze once again in Tokyo.

Potapova, who was world ranked No.10 heading into the Paralympics, overcame Germany’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Carmen Brussig and Turkey’s bronze medallist Ecem Tasin on her way to the podium.

In one of the most iconic moments of the Games, the judoka did a handstand on the side of mat in celebration of securing the medal against Chinese Taipei’s Kai Lin Lee.

Viktoriya Potapova does a handstand on the side of the judo mat

“I am so thankful to all the people that surround me. I want to say thank you to my relatives, to my daughter, to my sisters, to all the people who helped me, to my coach, to the people who work in the Russian Paralympic Committee, and I want to say thank you to the organisers,” Potapova said.

“When I talked to the doctors, they recommended to me that I should live an ordinary life. And when I heard that, I was like ‘why should I quit?’ Sport is good for me, so I will keep on doing that. I do not need to think about my disease, I just have to live.”

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