Ukrainian athletes have shown their support for their compatriots at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, after securing a clean sweep of medals in two other parabiathlon events at the Games of Tuesday.
Iryna Bui led the first Ukrainian podium sweep of the day in women’s middle distance, with Oleksandra Kononova and Liudmyla Liashenko taking silver and bronze respectively.
“I had been preparing for this special moment for 12 years. It was my goal and I trained really hard all that time,” Bui said of her first Paralympic medal at her third Games.
“But I came here with another thought. The whole world knows what is happening in Ukraine right now and now I know that I have a mission here, I represent the whole country. The whole country is behind me and with this medal, I’m just going to promote the Ukrainian nation once again.”
“We would like to dedicate our results and our medals to every Ukrainian and to all the soldiers of the Ukrainian army who protect us. With our performance, we represent the whole country and it is our fight here,” she said. added.
And yet another sweep of the Ukrainian podium was to follow a few hours later in the visually impaired men’s middle distance.
Vitaliy Lukyanenko won comfortably to claim the eighth Paralympic gold medal of his career, with Anatoliy Kovalevskyi and Dmytro Suiarko crossing the finish line to claim silver and bronze respectively.
At 43, Lukyanenko becomes the most successful male biathlete of all time.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate our beloved women on International Women’s Day. I want to wish them a peaceful sky above their heads, and be happy in life and not cry as they do now in Ukraine,” he said. .
“We are fighting here, not just in Ukraine but here on the sports scene.”
Yaroslav Reshetynskyi and Oleksandr Kazik followed Lukyanenko, Kovalevskyi and Suiarko as the Ukrainian athletes secured the top five spots in the race.
It was Ukraine’s third podium finish in the parabiathlon at the Beijing Paralympic Games after Lukyanenko, Kazik and Suiarko secured the top three spots in the men’s sprint for the visually impaired on Saturday. Ukraine has 6 gold medals at the Games so far, two behind China.