Guzal Yergesheva was born in a sports family. Her parents have the higher degree in physical education. Her mom played volleyball, her dad is a master of sports in weightlifting. When she was born, the doctors diagnosed her an achondroplasia, genetic disorder in dwarfism. Currently, her height is 122cm. Achondroplasia affects about 1 in every 40,000 births worldwide. Today, Guzal will tell us her story. 

How did you get interested in sports? 

Since my childhood, my parents encouraged me to a different type of sporting activities. I as the rest of all children were taught to skate, ski, I played volleyball, basketball. I took part in school competitions in table tennis and badminton. At 5 y.o. I swam the distance 25m on my own. Few years I poured myself with parents with cold water according to Porfiry Ivanov health and spiritual system. This procedure strengthened immunity system. I took an active part in school life, dancing, singing. All my interests/hobbies kept me from an inferiority complex in the society. My friends and kind people always surrounded me.

You are a very adventurous person. What are your sports achievements so far?

Unfortunately, I don’t have many friends with the same diagnose in Kazakhstan. I prefer when people call us LP (little person).  It was my dream to meet other LP people from other countries at one of the events. In 2013 I found out via social networks about World Dwarf Games to be held every four years. Having read all the rules and programme of the sports competitions of WDG, I started to train with the professional coaches. I planned the trip for the 7th WDG in Canada at Guelph University campus in Guelph city, 2 hours drive from Toronto. I fully funded the trip. And happy moments came when I got the 1st place-gold medal in powerlifting in my weight category, 2 silver medals in swimming, individual program and 3rd place with the Spanish team in a relay as I was the fourth member of their swimming team.

Guzal Yergesheva

How did you feel yourself being the only representative from Kazakhstan? 

With a deep sense of pride, I took part in nations parade at the opening ceremony as I was the only representative from Kazakhstan. It was unforgettable! During free time from the competitions, I made new friends, met professional athletes from different corners of the world who compete in world tournaments. These were unforgettable moments I will keep within long years.

People started calling “Kazakhstani Thumbelina” me upon return home from the WDG. With the help of mass media, I was glad that my sports story made other disabled people as well as ordinary people to go to the gym, to do sports and to have an active lifestyle.  

How has your life changed since 7th WDG in Canada? 

My achievements in Canada were the start for further professional sports activity in para powerlifting. In August 2018 I took part in Kazakhstan Cup in para powerlifting and at first time I got the Masters of the Sports in Para Powerlifting in my weight category. A new world-class Paralympic Training Centre was opened in Kazakhstan’s capital – Astana and will host the World Para Powerlifting Championship in 2019 and I had a great wish and motivation to be in the list of the participants.

I am a happy person and I am glad I have a family with great support, favorite job, experienced mentors, and coaches who prepare sportsmen with disabilities to the future local and international competitions in para powerlifting.

Guzal Yergesheva

What is the common misconception of people from Kazakhstan to little person? 

It happens so that in Kazakhstan some peoples’ reaction in public places to little person, disabled people is unpredictable, unfortunately. By telling any offensive phrases, whispers they are even not aware of how much hurt they make. That is why I think it would be great if personalities with disabilities could have a rightful place in society. Therefore they could prove they are the same worldly men, no need to stare or point a finger at.

I believe you are a changemaker. What is your advice to our readers? 

Our inspiration, commitment to overcome the challenges and wish to live in a better way must be an example for those who know us and admire our spiritual force. I wish that our kind energy gets into those people who throw their hands up while coping with daily life and encourages to step out of the unhealthy habits to start doing sports.

From my school years until now I feel and I am sure that we need to educate people on the responsibilities that we all have to think and act with empathy and compassion. October has been declared a dwarfism awareness month around the world and 25th October is a Dwarfism Awareness Day. It is great to know that all over the world little people unite to promote dwarfism awareness and pride in order to challenge social and physical barriers and assert our right to self-determination and independence.