Ukraine Completes Third Podium Sweep of Paralympic Games

Beijing 2022 International Paralympics
Beijing 2022 International Paralympics(International Paralympic Committee)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 2:32 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - While Ukraine’s athletes are under a much-greater microscope at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the biathlon skiers have shown the world just how talented they are.  Days after the team made international headlines with a sweep in the men’s sprint (visually impaired), the country’s Paralympians dominated twice more Tuesday with podium sweeps in two middle-distance events: women’s standing and men’s visually impaired.

In the women’s middle distance-standing (includes limp impairments, cerebral palsy), Iryna Bui led the charge crossing the finish line of 36:43.1, largely because she shot perfectly in Tuesday’s event.  Her fellow compatriot Oleksandra Kononova took silver with a time of 36.55.9, and their teammate Liudmyla Liashenko earned bronze, finishing one second behind Kononova.

While she spoke with international reports after the medal ceremony, Bui made sure to keep the competition in perspective.

“We would like to dedicate our results and medals to each and every Ukrainian and all the soldiers in the Ukrainian army who protect us,” the gold medalist said.   “With our performance, we represent the whole country and this is our battle here... The whole world knows what’s going on in Ukraine at the moment and now I know that I have a mission here.”

In biathlon, competitors stop at various points to aim their rifles at five targets.  With each miss, skiers must ski a penalty loop.  At the Paralympics, times are adjusted to accommodate the athletes’ impairments.  The greater the disability, the less time is factored in.

The women’s race wasn’t Ukraine’s most dominant performance Tuesday at the National Biathlon Center.   In the men’s middle distance-visually-impaired, not only did the Blue & Yellow win gold, silver, and bronze- they swept the top five.

Also with a clean record on the range, Vitaliy Lukyanenko claimed his second gold in Beijing (34:12.7).  Behind him with silver was Anatolii Kovalevskyi (34:57.3), and bronze-medalist Dmytro Suiarko (35.30.9).  Their fellow countryman Iaroslav Reshetynskyi was fourth (35:47.8), and their teammate Oleksandr Kazik finished fifth (37:00.2).

Even though skiing and shooting may seem to be a challenge for those with visual impairments, there are creative ways for blind athletes to compete.  Not only do they race with the help of guides (preferably athletes themselves), but they shoot with a laser gun.  While setting their shot in a prone position, the higher pitch indicates how close they are to hitting the target.  While the Paralympic athletes are presented with the medal, the guides share the space on the podium.

Coverage of the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games can be seen on NBCUniversal’s various platforms, including the USA Network, Peacock, and weekend primetime shows on KCBD-TV.

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