Kharkov Paralympians return home
Today, March 19, Kharkov athletes participating in the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, returned to their hometown. Heroes-athletes and their coaches were met at the South Station by Konstantin Loboychenko, director of Family, Youth and Sports Department, Nikolay Ovcharenko, head of the Kharkov regional centre “Invasport”, representatives of Kharkov Regional State Administration, relatives and friends.
Konstantin Loboychenko on behalf of Kharkov mayor Gennady Kernes congratulated the winners of Paralympic Games, noting that they are the pride of Kharkov, people worthy of respect and admiration and are an example for the youth of the city.
In turn, Valery Kazakov, the Paralympic team head coach for cross country skiing and biathlon, said that due to the events in the country the it was very hard for Paralympians to fight for victory, but nevertheless the Kharkovites managed to win three gold medals.
“All this time we were fighting for the medals. And it was brilliant, to get first gold medal, then another one, and then yet other one. Our athlete Vitaly Lyakyanenko won two gold medals, Lyudmila Pavlenko — one more. All this time we felt bitterness for what is happening in our country, but we wanted to show good results as this is what we were going for four years. And we did it,” said Valery Kazakov.
On Saturday, March 22, a festive celebration of Kharkov Paralympians will be held in the “French Boulevard” shopping centre. There will be a concert, and everyone will be able to talk with them.
Kharkov athletes won 11 medals at the 11 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, which ended March 16. Biathlete Vitaly Lukyanenko became the Paralympics champion at distances of 12.5 and 7.5 km, as well as the silver medalist in 4×2.5 km relay race. Another Kharkov resident, Yuri Utkin, received in this race a silver medal. Three medals received Lyudmila Pavlenko, skier: a gold medal as a winner in 12 km race, silver medal — in 5 km race, and a bronze — in 10 km biathlon. Oksana Shishkova became the absolute bronze medallist, bringing back to Kharkov four medals: third place in 1 km freestyle sprint race and in biathlon distances of 6, 10 and 12.5 km. In total, Ukrainian Paralympic team included eight athletes from Kharkov.