Around 110 athletes from nearly 20 countries are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the 2014 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships from 8-9 November at the Integracyjne Centrum Sportowo Dydaktyczne (ICDS) in Lomianki, Poland.
The Championships will see the debut of freestyle and individual events at a major international competition, in addition to the couples programme.
Russia's Galina Ryzhkova, competing in the women's single freestyle class 2 and single ladies class 2, has already shown her talent in the new events, winning two gold medals at September's Continents Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In the couple's events, Ryzhkova's teammates Aleksandra Berdnik and Sergey Antonov are currently the world No.1 in the duo Latin class 2.
"I'm really excited and eager about this, because the European Championships in Poland is pretty much a big and significant competition," Berdnik said. "Such competitions are very important. Have I trained enough? To be honest, I don't know. The results will show it. In our turn, me, my dance partner and coaches are putting all the efforts for the training process to benefit."
Berdnik's and Antonov's biggest opponents in Lomianki will be Austrians Brigitte Kroell and Werner Kaiser, who have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top five this year after swapping the basketball court for the dance floor in 2010.
The Slovakian world champion pairing of Helen Kasicka and Peter Vidasic look strong once again in the combi standard class 1. Having scored enough points this season to top the world rankings as they did in 2013 before winning at the Worlds in Tokyo, Japan, Kasicka and Vidasic could secure their first European title.
In the combi standard class 2, three couples from the world top five will dance waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, slow foxtrot and quickstep hoping to make it onto the podium.
The top ranked Russian duo of Irina Gordeeva and Alexander Lyapin, who lead compatriots Tatiana Skvortcova and Stanislav Sheshukov by only six points, and fourth-placed Slovenians Barbara Samperl and Klemen Pirman, will dance for glory at the ICDS.
The 2014 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships, the first since 2009, round-off a successful season which saw the first sanctioned competition take place in China amongst a total of eight events around the world as the sport moves into new countries.
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