Obstacles don’t beat this deaf Ukrainian student

Summarized by Amber Rottinghaus, staff writer

Elis Topchaniuk came to Washington from the Ukraine three years ago. The 18-year-old, who was born deaf and only knew a few English words, had to simultaneously learn both English and ASL.

Fortunately, there was one activity that Topchaniuk could turn to that didn’t require the use of language or translation cycling.

In early May, she took two first places in the fourth European Championship Mountainbike in Belgium. The competition was open to deaf, hard of hearing and hearing international mountain bikers from all over Europe.

“I wanted to show that deaf and hearing people were equal,” she said. “We can do things the same as hearing people can.”

Along with other biking competitions, these experiences have been lifechanging for Topchaniuk. As there aren’t many other deaf people in her new home, competing gives her the opportunity to meet others in the Deaf community.

Now, she has adjusted well to life in the US, though she admits the transition was difficult. She spends her days excelling at school and preparing for cycling contests throughout Seattle.

“Cycling is almost like music for me. The sensation is like wind and fire going through my hair.”

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