Anton Shipulin, olympic champion and founder of the Shipulin Foundation, an organisation providing athletic equipment and sports programmes in orphanages and in the community, shares his passion for sport and how he chooses to give back.
Anton was a bronze medallist at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada and was also the best Russian biathlon marksman in the same season (2009/2010). In addition, together with Evgeny Ustyugov, Alexey Volkov and Dmitry Malyshko he won the gold medal in the Men's Relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia (2014). In recognition of his outstanding accomplishments he received the prestigious "For merits before Fatherland" medal from the Russian president.
|Professional Athlete and Philanthropist|
|Giving access and engaging people to do sports|
QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY
|Don’t be shy to dream! - Author is unknown|
How did you start your philanthropic journey?
When I returned from the 2010 Olympics, which was held in Vancouver, where we won a bronze medal in the relay race, I decided that I did not want to waste my prize money. Therefore, an idea was born to help children in orphanages and I brought computers and sports equipment to the Irbit Orphanage. When I saw the children and talked with them, I realised that one-time help cannot solve all problems. So I started to think of doing it systematically to give back to an entire community and the idea was born to create my own charity foundation, where I together with like-minded people provide access to sports equipment and athletic programmes to all residents of the Sverdlovsk region, regardless of their capabilities and needs. This results annually in over 100 events.
Could you tell us more about the work of the Shipulin Foundation and its programmes?
The foundation has existed since 2010 and works to develop sports programmes. As part of our activities, we help social rehabilitation centers (former orphanages), children's and youth schools in acquiring sports equipment.
During spring and summer the foundation is engaged in installing outdoor gyms. Each resident of the city can visit one of our sites at any time. To date, there are already 16.
For the elderly, the foundation developed a programme called "To be simply active", which are free nordic walking classes run in seven cities throughout the Sverdlovsk region.
There are many more such programmes and sporting events which can be found on our website.
What challenges did you face during your philanthropic journey?
Doing charity is not always easy. The first challenges arose when the foundation was registered. At that time I did not have enough experience with charity work, but I still managed to get the foundation registered. Today, I have a team, which makes decisions every day of where we allocate our resources, promoting the values of the organisation and providing timely assistance.
Also important is the opinion of society. Some believe that I am doing charity at the expense of my sports career, but this is far from the truth. Thanks to sports, I became more disciplined and due to my participations in the World Cup, I personally can only manage to attend 10 percent of all events organised by the foundation. I have a great team on the ground which manages just fine without me being present but I am in constant contact with them.
Which of the experiences or projects were the most memorable?
One of my favourite project is the annual charity tournament "Match of All Stars", where the teams are made up of famous athletes and artists. This event becomes a real celebration for sports. In addition to the positive emotions experienced by the audience, each of them becomes a participant in an activity that gives back. The collected funds from the sale of tickets go to the construction and refurbishing of sports facilities in orphanages in the Sverdlovsk region.
If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?
Sometimes I think about it, but I never come up with the answer. After loosing in the sprint at the Olympics in Sochi, where I was one shot away from receiving the gold medal, I spent a very long time going over this moment in my head. The dream of becoming an Olympic champion was so close, but it did not happen and as a result I could no longer sleep at night as I was constantly thinking about this moment. And then at one point I just let it go as I realised it was just meant to be and there was nothing I could do to turn back time. And now my aim is to keep looking forward rather than use my energy to think what could have been.
Does the status of a titled athlete help you with your foundation?
The status of being an athlete helps me in my charitable activities as people who follow me in competitions are starting to support me with my charity work. For this I would like to say a special thank you!
Sometimes I hear stories, that because of me, children started to be more active and it's wonderful. After all, we, as athletes, promote the idea of a healthy lifestyle, and when one manages to encourage boys and girls to go outdoors and play ball, skate or even ski, you feel the warmest feelings.
Has your charity engagement changed you as a person?
It's hard to judge myself. Usually, changes are visible from the outside. But in my opinion, engaging in charity activities has not changed me. The only thing that is different is that when now I see children playing in a yard with overgrown grass and where there is not even a horizontal bar, I think how to fix the situation. I want to help everyone, but unfortunately, in reality it is difficult to do so.
What advice would you give to a person who wants to be involved in charity activities?
Charity in Russia is up and coming, therefore, if you decide to help, then be sure to get acquainted with the activities of the organisation, its projects and needs to ensure its a right fit for you. You will experience the warmest emotions from being able to help someone and improve their life thanks to you.
What does your typical day look like?
If it's a day during the preparation for a competition, then everything is on a well-planned schedule. I wake up, jog, have breakfast, do my first training, eat lunch, rest, do my second training, eat dinner, and then sleep. If I am not training then the day is according to my own plans that I have that day. Usually it's breakfast with my family, training, attend meetings in the city or get things done at home that have accumulate over time. I always make sure when I am at home that I do things with my family, for instance going to the trampoline park or the zoo. I want to spend as much time with my wife and son as he grows up so fast.
Who is your role model?
My parents are an example for me to follow. They are masters of sports in cross-country skiing and biathlon and have been my first coaching team. They instilled in me the love for sport. Now my parents continue to give me advice not only on sports, but also on life, for which I am very grateful. You can say that they are not only my sport coaches but also my life coaches.