Mariya Terekhova, also called Masha, is a professional climber from Kazakhstan who overcomes deafness and obstacles in her life in the same way: by focusing on her talents and goals, and by training hard.
Masha's Highest Passion
Mariya, can you tell us how the world opened up for you?
My name is Mariya, Masha for short, I am 19 years old and live in Kazakhstan. At the age of 5 I was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss. I was a very shy little girl and didn’t interact a lot with other kids. Understandably so, because I just could not hear them properly. I used a hearing aid, but to no avail.
How was life for you as a little girl without hearing?
It was lonely. I stayed at home for most of the time and did not go anywhere. Sometimes I looked out of the window and saw other children playing outside. I still remember how much I wished I could play with them too!
How did you communicate at all?
My grandmother was looking after me. She was afraid that I might never start talking. She was very creative and used a balloon to communicate with me.
How does communication with a balloon work?
You blow up a balloon, put it on your lips and start talking. Then you feel the vibrations. Of course, this was a very limited means of communicating. With my hearing loss deteriorating, I eventually received a cochlear implant (CI). I was 8 years old and in second grade of school. This opened up my world!
How did it change your world, how did it change your personality?
When I started hearing, I wanted to go out. I did not want to stay at home any more. I wanted to explore the world around me. I wanted to talk with others, get to know them and find out what they thought about me.
And what did they think about you?
In the first place, they thought I was a foreigner… I explained to them that I have a hearing loss and can only hear with my CI and my audio processor. I was afraid that they might turn me down, because I am disabled. But this never happened! They said that it did not matter. That it was much more important that I am a very outgoing person, interested in what’s going on around me. These words made me stronger, more confident.
When did you start your climbing career and did it impact you as a person?
I started climbing when I was 9 years old. This sport taught me a lot – I got courage, confidence, strength. I travelled around the globe and visited a lot of countries, like Malaysia, Indonesia, Austria, Iran, China, Italy, Singapore and many more. All this would not have been possible without my cochlear implant. It’s amazing! Such a small implant – but it gave me so many things! Communicating with other people, making friends. This is fun! It gave me the power to believe in myself.