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D. Nausėdienė and D. Lobačevskė: about love for sports and physical activity during the quarantine

Two Dianas, both crazy about track and field athletics and physical activity. One of them is the First Lady of the country, the other – Olympic marathon runner. Diana Nausėdienė and Diana Lobačevskė discussed track and field athletics and the importance of physical activity for children.

Although these two famous women had never met in person before, they have a lot more in common than one might think: love for track and field athletics, concern about physical activity of children and the Lithuanian Children Games.

D. Nausėdienė is the patron of the country’s biggest project for pre-schoolers, while D. Lobačevskė is an ambassador of the Games and the mother of the 5-year-old Atėnė.

“I know that you are involved in sports and physical activity, also that you support projects for encouraging children’s physical activity. Could you explain such love for sport?”, asked D. Lobačevskė the First Lady D. Nausėdienė.

I was very active as a child. I was everywhere – from playing games and dodge ball in the yard to badminton or volleyball. Finally I fell in love with track and field athletics. Even now I just can’t turn of the TV if a live competition is on. 

I’m very glad to hear that. Are you a runner yourself?

Yes, I’ve been jogging all my life. After I got married, me and my husband would go jogging in the evenings. It is a form of relaxation for us, although now we do it much more rarely. I’m more careful during the winter, because I don’t want to risk getting injured. Once I slipped on ice and fell down, therefore in winter I try to avoid running in the dark. However, I have already started my spring season of jogging.

I want to tell those people who are planning to put on their running shoes and start jogging – it will be difficult in the beginning. Don’t go for significant results too quickly, simply enjoy the process. It’ll get easier with time, and then maybe one day you’ll find yourself competing with Diana Lobačevskė.

I read that not many expected you to return to sports after your serious injury. Did your personal qualities that you developed as an athlete helped to prove the skeptics wrong?

They really did. Someone once told me that I would never become a marathon runner, because my feet were too flat and that it was just not my sport. After the injury, my persistence and willingness to prove myself kicked in again. Also, I really wanted to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, to participate, achieve good results and then leave the athletic career with dignity. In my opinion, it is awfully hard for an athlete to be forced to leave sports due to an injury.

Your example only proves that in order to raise a strong-willed, self-confident, and versatile person we must encourage him or her to be physically active.

What about your training routine? How did it change during the pandemic?

Before the quarantine was announced, I was at a training camp in Portugal with my daughter Atėnė. I always try to take her with me, so that she could see what her mother does. When countries started closing their borders, I canceled the two remaining weeks of the training camp. I am a runner, so the quarantine did not affect my routine too much. I can run anywhere, and I try to keep up my physical shape.

Also, during the quarantine I’ve been trying to spend more time with my daughters. That is something I would suggest to every parent. I noticed that my 5-year-old copies everything I do. If I exercise, she also does it. We really can inspire our children to move, we simply have to devote some of our time and to act as an example. Even chores can become a fun form of physical activity.

I agree. I believe that movement, active games, and relays at home help to develop creativity, teamwork, ability to compete and to solve problems. After all, sport affects not only our bodies, but also minds. It helps to develop such qualities as those of yours: strong will, responsibility, leadership.

I think that we could call parents and their children a team. If parents want to encourage their little ones to be physically active and to move more, they just have to become involved in such activities themselves. It helps to strengthen the family’s relationship and thus to create loving, strong and healthy families.

I also notice the important job the teachers are doing. During the quarantine, physical education teachers shared advice and recommendation on the Internet, so they were available for many families.

It is very important to avoid discouraging a child by asking too much of him or her. Children need to be engaged and involved, which also helps to create a strong family relationship. That is why I believe that the online work of teachers is especially important and worth looking at.

Even I use those recommendations. My training routine is quite monotonous, I sometimes become bored, therefore I’m really enjoying all the new ideas that are available now.

While living in Germany, I was amazed by their sport culture. At the university, the non-compulsory track and field athletics sessions attracted a huge crowd of physically active and mindful youth. The standards of healthy lifestyle and caring for one’s body are remarkably high there, as are the physical loads, even those of amateurs. 

I would love it to also become a Lithuanian tradition, involving the majority of the society. As they say, healthy body, healthy mind. Professional athletes pursue results, but amateurs place more importance on the sense of unity and the joy of being active.

If we want to engage the little ones in physical activity, we have to ensure their safety. During the Lithuanian Children Games in Molėtai, I was amazed by the teachers’ ability to inspire 1.5-year-old toddlers to play sports, and even do it very willingly. They perform exercises suitable for their age and complete challenges

under the supervision of not only adults, but older children as well. This sense of unity is wonderful. The Lithuanian Children Games is a marvelous project which needs to be promoted.

We all are really sad that currently the competitions of the Lithuanian Children Games are not taking place. What would you wish to the Games participants while they are waiting for the possibility to resume competing with their friends?

First of all – Olympic patience. I also want to encourage them to exercise at home and by using household items. This will help them to prepare for the Lithuanian and to return in great physical and psychological shape.

I believe it will be a wonderful moment, as is the atmosphere of the Games. It is a celebration of movement and joy of life. I want to wish it for every Lithuanian family and to invite everyone to actively join the creation of the Lithuanian Children Games tradition. Let’s ensure that every kindergarten is involved in sports and that this movement is supported by the whole community. I wish everyone to experience the joy of movement!

The recorded video of the conversation is available here:

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Svajonių įgyvendinimas: IT DREAMS