Interview with para-athlete Stinna Tange

Stinna is not limited by her physical restrictions. This has brought her to become a professional athlete within horse riding.

About one tenth of the Danish population has a physical handicap. Out of this group, 13,200 people do sports in clubs under Parasport Denmark. One of these people is Stinna Tange. Stinna is born without legs, but in spite of that, she has become a para-athlete today. In this interview, you can read about Stinna and what parasport means to her.

When did you start doing sports?

When I was 6. It was part of my physiotherapy, where horse riding was intended to strengthen my muscles. Afterwards, it developed and become a huge passion and joy for me.

Has your handicap ever kept you from doing certain things?

Not really. I have always focused on my possibilities instead of my limitations. I can’t play football, but that has never interested me anyway. Therefore, I have not wanted to do that. I have only wanted to do things, which were possible for me to do. Luckily, my interests have been within possible fields.

Was it your parents, who urged you to start horse riding?

No, it was myself. However, my parents have always supported me in everything I wanted to do. Therefore, I started horse riding just like all my friends. Eventually, I fell in love with horses just like a lot of other young girls do.

When was the first time you noticed that you are talented?

When I was around 9 or 10 years old. Maybe a bit earlier. Pretty quickly, I was able to do the things, which people with legs were also able to do. I became better quite quickly from I was 6 years until I was 10 years and that surprised me. It was amazing that I was able to do the same things as people with legs - and even better than many of them. It felt great to be equal. In addition, it has always been intuitive to me how the exercises were supposed to look and how to execute them.

How large a part of your everyday life is sport?

I try to organize my life, so sport is not overriding everything else. Previously, sport was everything and that was really exhausting. Because all small failures in the sport affect your entire life in that case. Right now, I focus on 3 things. First, my social life: my friends, family and boyfriend. Second, my education at the university. Third, my sport. These are the three things that I try to make room for. It provides me with a good balance and it all makes sense to me and fills me with positive energy in individual ways.

What have you personally gained from parasport?

I think, I have gained more from it than I can actually articulate. It has given me confidence and the belief that everything is possible. Facing challenges, which seem difficult at first is something, which you can really benefit from later in life.

What is your biggest athletic achievement?

That is difficult to say. All of the medals have their own story and fight behind them. The 2 medals I won at the Paralympic Games in Rio, were one of my largest achievements. I had been out for some years, and I had not been at the top of my game during that time. Therefore, it really meant a lot to me to be back. I really appreciated it, and I was very moved at that time. It was nice to be back at the level, where I feel like I belong. Especially when I have worked so hard to get there. However, all of my medals are very meaningful to me, but the ones from Rio were landmarks.

What has it meant to you that Pressalit started sponsoring you?

It was a great acknowledgement. Obviously, it is beneficial financially as horse riding is an expensive sport. Therefore, sponsorships make it easier. It provides me with a lot of freedom that I do not have to consider finances all the time.

How has Pressalit Sports Academy helped you?

It has made me more of a complete athlete. I have increased my focus on media training, mental training and nutrition. These are areas, which are usually not regarded as highly in horse riding as we care more about the horse’s training and what it eats. I have learned, how important it is to eat before and after training and what to eat. Therefore, it has been very educational for me. Also, it has meant a lot to me socially. It is nice to sit down and talk to the other people representing Denmark. It has been very giving for me.