You meet some interesting people on social media. You discover profiles that amaze you for the ease with which they communicate, for the sense of affinity they convey after reading just a few stories or posts.
One such profile is @talamona94, belonging to Paralympic athlete Arianna Talamona. We asked her for an interview.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Arianna?
My name is Arianna, I am 24 years old and I live in Lissone. I hold a degree in psychology and I am currently specialising in psychology in social and decisional processes and in economic behaviours. I am a Paralympic swimmer and I am training for Tokyo 2020.
Well done! What led to your passion for swimming?
I started swimming to overcome my disability. I was born with Strumpell-Lorrain disease, a hereditary and degenerative neurological disorder, which means I can only stand for brief periods of time. I started swimming to keep my muscles strong, but the swimming pool also boosted my mental strength.
What does this sport mean to you?
I started swimming when I was a small child and my training routine increased in pace when I was in middle school. I had to wear leg braces when I was a child and swimming was just a pastime. When I was older, I decided to stop using the braces and muscle relaxants and to use swimming instead.
That is an important decision. What led to this revolution?
The braces and the drugs were no longer having beneficial effects for me. Swimming not only improved my physique, it also became my “training for life”. If I think how I was ten years ago, as I did recently in the #tenyearschallenge on Instagram, I see a very “unworldly” young girl.
Has the swimming pool brought new challenges for you?
Absolutely! I started an obstacle race, inside and outside the pool. With the help of the sports psychologist, Micaela Fantoni, and my coach, I started working on myself. I had to make a huge effort to open up and face a challenge, to change and get better, accepting every criticism as a means to improvement. It was a genuine transformation for me.
Is this where your passion for psychology came from?
Precisely! I saw the results the psychologist’s work had on me and I decided I wanted to know more. I turned from an insecure and touchy young girl who had difficulty relating to others into a determined, secure and, above all, happy person.
Instagram now places you in contact with so many people, who can be inspired by the way you deal with the day-to-day challenges of living with a disability ….
That’s right! On social media, and therefore on Instagram, but also on my YouTube channel, I like recounting my everyday life and interacting with the people who read my stories and posts or watch my videos. And if I am contacted by a person with a disability who is going through a difficult period, I always try to put myself in their shoes and find something that could interest them and spur them on to try something new. I think there is always a “spark” behind every change, a first, basic step.
Congratulations Arianna. Your spirit makes you a champion inside and outside the pool!
Do you have a message for our readers, particularly those who are seeking the inspiration to change?
I would say to anyone reading this interview that you should think of yourself as a blank page. Face the challenges and, above all, be proud of every achievement, however big or small!
Thank you Arianna and good luck for Tokyo!
Thank you. I’ll do my best!