Yulia Samoilova has opened up about participating in Eurovision 2017 and what she hopes to get out of the competition.

On Sunday night Russia announced their entrant and song for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yulia Samoilova was internally selected by Channel One with the song “Flame is Burning”, the 27-year-old has since become a major topic of debate. In an interview with Relanoe Vremya, Yulia revealed that she was only approached with the song at the end of February, with her deciding instantly before understanding the lyrics that this was the song for her. She added that Eurovision has been a dream for her all her life.

As the first singer with a disability to represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest and only one of a handful to compete on the Eurovision stage, Yulia has become a role model for other people with disabilities in Russia, adding that:

I think they’re proud of me. To some extent, perhaps, they have acquired more confidence in themselves. This situation with the competition shows that we are, in principle, are allowed everywhere, and everyone can achieve very much in our country — to achieve their goal despite some physical moments. The main thing — to believe in yourself and work hard then everything will be fine.

Yulia has opted to ignore the debate online about whether she should be going to the Eurovision Song Contest for Russia, with public support for participation according to a number of polls at less than 20%. However her main focus now until the contest is on her rehearsals and working on the English pronunciation of the lyrics.

Russia will be performing in the first half of the second semi final on May 11.

Source: Realnoe Vremya

Russia debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 and has gone on to be one of the most successful countries in the contest. Since the mid-00s Russia has had a string of strong results including their first and only victory to date in 2008. Dima Bilan won the contest in Belgrade, Serbia with the song “Believe” taking the contest to Moscow the following year. In the past two years Russia has finished in 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the final.