Margarita Gorbounova Paralympics

Margarita Gorbounova of Ottawa will be competing in four events at the Sochi Paralympics. (CBC)

Margarita Gorbounova enjoyed the thrill of competing at the Paralympic Games in her adoptive homeland in 2010. Now she returns to her birthplace with the 2014  Games set for Sochi, Russia. The St.Petersburg-born cross-country skier and biathlon racer was introduced to Para-nordic skiing by her parents, also both visually impaired.

Her mother, Olga Nazarenko, represented Russia in Para-nordic skiing, winning gold  at the Tignes-Albertville 1992 Paralympic Winter Games. Her father, Mikhail Gorbounov, is a middle distance runner who has won gold and silver medals in the European championships and completed 25 international marathons.

Gorbounova, who was born with cataracts resulting in almost complete visual impairment, was initially attracted to the sport to combat boredom during the winter.  In 1999, the family moved to Canada, but it was not until they settled in Ottawa in 2005 that she started to think about taking up the sport competitively.

The highlight of her career so far is competing at the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. That season she teamed-up with her mother’s former guide, Robert D’Arras.

This season, Gorbounova’s guide is Andrea Bundon, who resides across the country in Vancouver. They’ve shown great chemistry but training together is difficult because of the distance that separates them. Gorbounova, 29, met the qualifying standard for cross-country skiing back in January 2013 at the IPC Nordic Skiing World cup in Cable, Wisconsin.

Courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee