We asked GRETE
As International Women's Day approaches, let's take a moment to honor the fierce and determined women who are leaving their mark in the world of sports. From breaking records to overcoming challenges, these women embody both strength and grace as they strive for excellence.
Can you share your journey in the sport you play and what inspired you to take it up?
My journey in the sport has been rocky with many & more ups and downs. Through different setbacks such as injuries, health problems, mental health issues, eating disorders, and lack of financial support I am still "on the road" fighting for my best self as an athlete and a woman. I have also experienced many amazing moments in sports as becoming a Youth World Champion, finishing top 30 at the World Cup, competing at the Olympics World Championships, etc.
I grew up watching xc-skiing and biathlon on the TV while cheering for Estonian and other nation's athletes. They inspired me to start dreaming about big things in winter sports. I found my way to skitracks way before I actually joined the local ski club.
How have you faced and overcome challenges as a woman in your sport?
Shortly, YES! Being a woman in sports you most likely face many different challenges. In 2010 being a young lady I started to dislike my body and started to have pressure to fit into certain kinds of body norms. It led me to an eating disorder that last for 12 years and might follow me somehow forever. I have also had really hard periods since the beginning so I have faced a lot through the years with heavy cramps, fatigue, nausea, etc. Because of it, this has ruined fortunately and sadly many of my competitions from a very young age. Also, what regards food or energy supplements it is most tested on men but our bodies do work differently. Also, having I men coaches, the training system is often based on men and less focused on the peculiarities of women.
Which women has been your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration has been our local Estonian xc-skiing Olympic Champion Kristina Šmigun. That woman I looked up to her from a very young age as an athlete and today I see her as a beautiful and wise woman and a mom. I guess I have many role models in my life who I not only see as great athletes but also just human beings and women - for example, Lindsey Vonn, and Allyson Felix, etc... oh really, there are so many women out there!
What advice would you give to young girls who want to get into sports?
Dream, believe, and trust. Be fearless. Don't hesitate to ask for help from people around you and from specialists. Don't let yourself bother by other people's opinions, especially the ones who don't know you or what you go through. Dream big, and don't give up. Listen to your body and take care of your physical and MENTAL health. Go full focus on the things that make your eyes shine and heart beats faster. It might not be easy but it is definitely worth it.