Ukrainian Paralympians Excel Despite Turmoil at Home

Issue 66, March 2014.

Ukrainian Paralympians Excel Despite Turmoil at Home

Amid the backdrop of the host nation invading its territory before the 2014 Winter Paralympics even began, Ukrainian paralympians turned in a fine set of performances. When the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee decided against boycotting the competition, the athletes found small ways to voice their displeasure with events back home. Whether it was Ukrainian flagbearer and Nordic skier Myhaylo Tkachenko wheeling himself in alone at the Opening Ceremonies or it was one of several medal winners covering their medals with their hands during medal ceremonies, Ukrainian athletes struggled with competing at a competition hosted by an invading nation. It didn’t, however, prevent them from excelling; with one day left of competitions, Ukrainian athletes had taken home 21 medals, including five gold – good for 3rd place overall. Ukrainians medalled in 19 separate events in cross-country skiing and biathlon. Gold medal winners included: Vitaliy Lukyanenko (2), Oleksandra Kononova, Grygorii Vovchynskyi, and Lyudmyla Pavlenko. Lukyanenko added a silver and bronze for a total of 4 medals, while Kononova added a silver and Oksana Shyshkova took 4 bronzes. Overall, 11 of 31 Ukrainian athletes medalled in Sochi. The strong performance in Sochi improved on Ukraine’s performance at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver that saw the team finish 5th with 19 medals.