Even as the Russian invasion continues to wreak havoc in their homeland, athletes representing Ukraine have managed to emerge victorious at the 2022 Winter Paralympics. With the Games just finishing up in Beijing, China on March 13, Ukraine brought home an incredible total of 29 medals between the only two sports it entered—the biathlon and cross-country skiing—coming in second overall, behind China. In an impressive show of talent, Ukrainian athletes earned 11 gold, 10 silver, and eight bronze medals, marking the country’s best performance at the Winter Paralympics to date.
However, in spite of their victory, several athletes struggled to focus and give it their all during the events—an understandable struggle with all the turmoil taking place back home. “Very hard concentration is needed in biathlon and I missed twice because yesterday my house where I live, it was bombed and destroyed,” said 25-year-old biathlete and cross-country skier Dmytro Suiarko.
The fact that Ukraine’s team of 20 athletes made it to the Paralympics to compete at all was hailed as a “miracle” in itself by the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee (UPC) president Valeriy Sushkevych. Between the logistical challenges caused by the war and the difficult four-day journey it took for them to make it, Ukraine was the last delegation to arrive in Beijing. But those difficult circumstances didn’t deter them from their objective, and now their victory stands as a symbol of hope for a larger triumph for their nation.
“Not coming here would have been taking the easy option,” Sushkevych professed. “Our presence at the Paralympics is a sign that Ukraine is and will remain a country.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in an address he gave to the country during the Paralympics. “The victories of Ukraine for all of us are worth their weight in gold or silver or bronze,” said Zelenskiy. “Today, everyone is gaining glory for Ukraine in his or her place. It shows the world who Ukrainians are and what strength we have, with a weapon in hands on the battlefield or with a sporting rifle on a biathlon track.”
Ukraine and its citizens have continued to show their resilience and strength as they’ve faced down Russian aggression. And the country’s victory and outstanding performance in the Paralympics is another show of their incredible perseverance, determination, and tenacity. While the country still faces an uncertain future, this news brings new hope for a better tomorrow in Ukraine.
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Ukraine came second in the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing, winning 29 medals overall.
The team's spectacular performance and victory during this difficult time of war stand as symbols for hope and peace in Ukraine.
Watch this video to learn more about the team's journey to the Paralympics.