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    • Canadian Paralympic skier Margarita Gorbounova pushes on, 3 months after losing best friend to cancer

      March 7, 2014

      Original Article: Neate Sager, Yahoo Sports

      Margarita Gorbounova had her medal around her neck when she set out for Sochi. Inscribed on it are two words that mean the world for the second-time Paralympian.

      Not “Sochi 2014,” but the words "Tanya" and "Cherish" on a necklace that the visually impaired Nordic skier wears in memory of her sister-in-law by marriage and sister for all other intents and purposes. Tanya Martin, whose spirit belied her endless health challenges — "life was a battle for her," says Cliff Martin, Tanya’s brother and Margarita’s husband — died Dec. 4, five months after cancer was discovered in her esophagus.

      There are all the minutely detailed training programs for the Games. There is no how-to for juggling being 'all in' while your best friend — who is only 35 years old, whose wedding you wanted to plan since she saved the day so many times while planning your big day three years ago — clings to life. Gorbounova's recourse has been to push on as much as realistically possible. Grief cannot be jammed into a sports metaphor.

      "When she was sick, I often thought about it — it was so hard to manage my training," Gorbounova, a part-time skier and federal government French-English translator who is due to represent Canada in three cross-country races and one biathlon event, said prior to leaving for Sochi. "In an Olympic year, you can’t just half-ass it — it is 'I have to do this training. It has to be exactly as planned.' Then there is this whole, 'Tanya is sick and I want to go visit her.'

      "It was a struggle for sure, that part,” added the 29-year-old, who was born with cataracts and has only about 10 per cent of her vision. "I think a few times for sure I thought about whether I should just quit and be there with her. But you always think that she wouldn't want me to do that — she would want me to keep going."