Ukrainian Paralympians rack up medals after escaping chaotic situation at home


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Paralympic athletes from Ukraine have taken Beijing by storm and climbed near the top of the leaderboard while competing with heavy hearts as their home country is overrun by Russia.

Heading into Tuesday’s events, Ukraine had a total of eight medals – tied with the United States and Germany. However, the team was behind Canada, which had 12, and China, which led with 25, including seven gold medals. Ukraine is tied with Canada with four gold medals each.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had a resounding effect on the sports world, and the Paralympic Games were no different. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Games.

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From left, silver medalist Oleksandr Kazik of Ukraine with his guide Serhii Kucheriavyi, gold medalist Vitalii Lukianenko of Ukraine with his guide Boys Babar (left of centre) , and bronze medalist Dmytro Suiarko of Ukraine, alongside his guide Oleksandr Nikonovych, pose together for a group photo after their dominance in the men’s para-biathlon sprint for the visually impaired at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center. Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, Zhangjiakou, China, Saturday March 5, 2022.
(Thomas Lovelock/OIS via AP)

Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Sushkevych told reporters last week that it took the team more than four days to get to Beijing.

“It’s a miracle that we are here. … Part of our team was already abroad. Part of our team was in Ukraine. All the necessary equipment was in Ukraine. … We had to unite all these parts “, he said, via Reuters.

“I have been President of the National Paralympic Committee of Ukraine for 25 years. And never has it been so difficult, so heavy to come to the Paralympic Games.”

Sushkevych added that it might not be so easy to get home, especially if the fighting continues and escalates.

“Going home is not easy. I hope the international community will take a real step during the Paralympic Games to stop this war,” he said.

While chaos reigns at home, Paralympic athletes from Ukraine have had some success on the playing field. Read below for an overview of the athletes who have racked up medals so far.

Alexander Kazik

Oleksandr Kazik of Team Ukraine and his guide Serhii Kucheruavyi compete in the men's para-biathlon sprint for the visually impaired during the first day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 05, 2022 in Beijing, in China.

Oleksandr Kazik of Team Ukraine and his guide Serhii Kucheruavyi compete in the men’s para-biathlon sprint for the visually impaired during the first day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 05, 2022 in Beijing, in China.
(Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Oleksandr Kazik won his first medal of the 2022 Paralympic Games in the 6 kilometer biathlon race for the visually impaired. He finished in second place between his Ukrainian teammates Vitaliy Lukyanenko and Dmytro Suiarko. Kazik had won two medals at the 2018 Games – one in the 12.5 kilometer visually impaired and one in the 15 kilometer visually impaired.

Ludmyla Liashenko

Liudmyla Liashenko of Team Ukraine competes in the Women's Paralympic Para Biathlon Standing Sprint during Day 1 of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 05, 2022 in Beijing, China.

Liudmyla Liashenko of Team Ukraine competes in the Women’s Paralympic Para Biathlon Standing Sprint during Day 1 of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on March 05, 2022 in Beijing, China.
(Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Liudmyla Liashenko won a silver medal in the women’s 6 kilometer standing biathlon event. She finished just behind China’s Yuije Guo and ahead of Yuije’s teammate Zhiqing Zhao. This is Liashenko’s second career medal. She won bronze in the same event at Pyeongchang in 2018.

Vitali Lukyanenko

Silver medalist Oleksandr Kazik from Ukraine and his guide Sergiy Kucheryaviy, gold medalist Vitaliy Luk'yanenko from Ukraine and his guide Ivan Marchyshak, and bronze medalist Anthony Chalencon from France and his guide Simon Valverde celebrate during of the Medal Ceremony of the Men's Visually Impaired 15km Biathlon on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games on March 17, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Silver medalist Oleksandr Kazik from Ukraine and his guide Sergiy Kucheryaviy, gold medalist Vitaliy Luk’yanenko from Ukraine and his guide Ivan Marchyshak, and bronze medalist Anthony Chalencon from France and his guide Simon Valverde celebrate during of the Medal Ceremony of the Men’s Visually Impaired 15km Biathlon on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games on March 17, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
(Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Vitaliy Lukyanenko won a gold medal for Ukraine. He won the visually impaired men’s 6 kilometer biathlon, finishing just ahead of Kazik and Suiarko in the event.

Lukayanenko is a decorated Ukrainian para-athlete. He arrived at the Paralympic Games with six gold medals to his credit dating back to the 2006 Games in Turin.

Taras Rad

Taras Rad of Team Ukraine competes in Para Cross Country Skiing during Day Two of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on March 06, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.

Taras Rad of Team Ukraine competes in Para Cross Country Skiing during Day Two of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games on March 06, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
(Alex Davidson/Getty Images for the International Paralympic Committee)

Taras Rad won a silver medal in the men’s 6 kilometer seated biathlon. The 22-year-old won his second Paralympic medal with his first coming to the 2018 Paralympics. Rad finished behind China’s Liu Zixu and teammate Liu Mengtao.

Oksana Shyshkova

Oksana Shyshkova of Team Ukraine competes in the Women's Para Cross-Country Skiing Long Distance Classic Technique event at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on day three of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, on March 7, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.

Oksana Shyshkova of Team Ukraine competes in the Women’s Para Cross-Country Skiing Long Distance Classic Technique event at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center on day three of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, on March 7, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
(Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Oksana Shyshkova picked up two gold medals on the first of the opening days of the Games. Shyshkova won the visually impaired women’s 6 kilometer biathlon and the visually impaired women’s 15 kilometer cross-country classic.

She beat Germany’s Linn Kazmaier and Leonie Maria Walter in both categories.

Dmytro Suiarko

Dmytro Suiarko of Ukraine grabs his poles from his guide during the men's biathlon sprint event for the visually impaired on March 5, 2022, at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center during the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

Dmytro Suiarko of Ukraine grabs his poles from his guide during the men’s biathlon sprint event for the visually impaired on March 5, 2022, at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Center during the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
(LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Dmytro Suiarko added to Ukraine’s medal tally with a bronze medal in the men’s 6 kilometer biathlon for the visually impaired. He finished behind his teammates Lukyanenko and Kazik.

Grygorii Vovchynskyi

Gold medalist Grygorii Vovchynskyi of Team Ukraine poses during the medal ceremony for the men's parabiathlon sprint on the second day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou Medals Square on March 6 2022, in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province of China.

Gold medalist Grygorii Vovchynskyi of Team Ukraine poses during the medal ceremony for the men’s parabiathlon sprint on the second day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games at Zhangjiakou Medals Square on March 6 2022, in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province of China.
(Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images)

Grygorii Vovchynskyi won a gold medal in the men’s 6 kilometer standing biathlon. Vovchynskyi beat German Marco Maier and Canadian Mark Arendz. It was the first Paralympic gold medal of his career after winning silver and bronze at the Paralympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.

US Paralympian shows support for Ukraine

Gold medalist Oksana Masters of Team United States poses during the medal ceremony for the women's parabiathlon sprint on the second day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Zhangjiakou Medals Square on March 6, 2022 , in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province of China.

Gold medalist Oksana Masters of Team United States poses during the medal ceremony for the women’s parabiathlon sprint on the second day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Zhangjiakou Medals Square on March 6, 2022 , in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province of China.
(Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images)

Oksana Masters, born in Ukraine and later adopted by an American, competes in the Paralympic Games for Team USA.

After winning a gold medal on Sunday in the 6 kilometer seated biathlon, she wrote on Instagram that she felt “so proud” seeing the Ukrainian flag at the Games.

“It has been difficult to find my passion and desire to participate in these Games in the midst of the war my home country of Ukraine is going through. I feel selfish, helpless and guilty to be here,” said- she writes. “However, I have always been so proud to be Ukrainian, I felt so proud at the sight of the Ukrainian flag, and now more than ever, I am most proud to say that I am Ukrainian. My mother has always said that my Ukrainian heart made me resilient; it made me a fighter.

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“As the Paralympic Winter Games begin, I am reminded of how sport has always had the power to unite the world. I will be racing for more than my own goals, more than a place on the podium. pole I will be running for families and children with disabilities in Ukraine. As Ukrainians fight for their homes and peace, I want every start line and every finish line to mean something much bigger than “a race or a result. I want to help make sure no child is left behind. I know what it was like to be a child with a disability in Ukraine where resources for medical help were slim to non-existent – more now in the middle of a war.


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