The Russian Paralympians achieved phenomenal success at the Tokyo Games. They showed the best result in the history of Russian Paralympic sports, winning 118 awards and setting 17 world records. Vladimir Putin said this on September 13 at a meeting with paraathletes in the Kremlinwhere they received state awards. According to him, the non-admission of Russian participants to the 2016 Games in Brazil did not break their spirit and faith in justice. For the athletes themselves, the competition in the context of international sanctions, which deprived them of the tricolor and the anthem, became an additional motivation on the path to success. However, they hope that in the future, adaptive sports will be covered even more widely. After all the successes of the Paralympians give hope not only to other people with similar limitations, but also allow absolutely healthy fellow citizens to look at many things from a different perspective…
Heroes of our time
The awards ceremony for the winners of the past Paralympic Games followed a similar scenario, as did the Saturday reception of the Olympians in the Kremlin. Most of the paraathletes were awarded by presidential aide Igor Levitin (bronze and silver medalists, as well as several gold medalists), after which the champions received state awards from the hands of the president. Then all the Paralympians were gathered in the St. George Hall, where Vladimir Putin again addressed them.
The ceremony this time, however, caused much more emotion.… The opportunity to observe athletes who, despite the lack of limbs, vision and hearing problems or other health limitations, achieved such incredible success, caused great delight and a feeling of deep respect among the audience. Moreover, communication with the Paralympic athletes prompted many of those present to think whether it is worth complaining about their own difficulties so often.
– Your speeches literally, in the full sense of the word, charge with their indomitable energy, motivate people to think about true values, have a unique inspiring power.… And your victories testify to impeccable preparation for the most important competitions, – said Vladimir Putin during the awards ceremony.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with the winners and prize-winners of the 16th Paralympic Summer Games
Photo: Izvestia / Kristina Kormilitsyna
The Russian Paralympians at the Tokyo Games took fourth place in the overall standings. In their piggy bank there were 36 gold, 33 silver and 49 bronze medals… The team of China became the leader, the second place went to Great Britain, the American athletes closed the top three.
Nevertheless the performance of the Russian Federation at the Games can be considered a real success. Russian Paralympians in total number of awards surpassed the results of the London 2012 Games by 16 medals… At the same time, they had to cope in the Japanese capital not only with covid restrictions.
Due to the doping scandal, which caused the imposition of sanctions against domestic sports, the Paralympians arrived in Tokyo as members of the Russian Paralympic Committee team, not the national team.… They were forbidden to participate in competitions under the flag of the Russian Federation, and in case of victory, instead of the anthem, a fragment from the First Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Pyotr Tchaikovsky sounded.
– This, on the contrary, motivated us to show the whole world that we can perform with dignity even under such circumstances., – Vladimir Danilenko, three-time bronze medalist in swimming, told Izvestia before the awards ceremony. – Now we are in a festive mood, because we were able to perform with dignity. I liked everything very much, how the Paralympic Games went. Everything was top notch.
Elena Krutova, who took the third place in archery in the mixed team competition in the W1 class, agrees with this.
– Anyway, everyone knew where we were from and what country we represented. Probably, this situation, indeed, was more offensive for the fans who supported us at a distance.… We felt support, despite the absence of a flag and an anthem, ”she assured Izvestia, adding that after a short rest she would work on the mistakes she had made and start preparing for the February World Championship.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev
Swimmers Viktoria Ischiulova, Elizaveta Sidorenko, Anastasia Gontar and Ani Palyan after the finish of the 4x100m relay race for women at the XVI Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo
To new heights
Meanwhile, we should not forget about another reason why the competitions in Tokyo have become special for the Paralympians. These Games were incredibly long-awaited, as Russian para-athletes were deprived of the opportunity to perform in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro… Thus, the athletes have been waiting for participation for nine years – since 2012, when the Paralympics were in London, Eduard Isakov, Senator and President of the Ugra sledge hockey club, who brought up Olga Sergienko, a participant in four Paralympic Games, recalled in an interview with Izvestia.
– Obviously, the politicized situation with the non-admission of the Russian national team to the Games in Rio de Janeiro did not break your fighting spirit, your faith in justice and the values of paralympism, your faith in yourself and your strength, your desire to become leaders, the best in the world, – said Vladimir Putin. – I noticed how one of your comrades said that you doubled all the energy you had to give in Rio in Tokyo.…
The President noted the phenomenal performance of Russian swimmers, who brought almost half of the gold medals to the team. Athletes, cyclists, table tennis players, and fencers, who won medals at such prestigious competitions for the first time, also distinguished themselves, he added.
– They showed the best result in the history of Russian Paralympic sports, won 118 awards, set 17 world records and became real heroes of the past Games, – stressed the head of state.
The success achieved for many Paralympic athletes is just the beginning, a step in the right direction for new victories in the future. At the same time, due to the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021, there are only three years left until the next Olympics and Paralympics – in 2024 the competitions will be held in Paris. And by 2023, the sanctions will end, and Russian athletes should become fully equal participants in world tournaments.
Prize-winners and winners of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo in the Kremlin
Photo: Izvestia / Kristina Kormilitsyna
The athletes themselves hope that by this time the Paralympic disciplines will gain great popularity in the country.
– I think we need to show more of Paralympic sports on TV. So that kids can see and understand that they too can reach sports heights… It’s like in football, when guys watch matches – and they have a desire to practice this sport. The situation is similar here, – said swimmer Vladimir Danilenko.
According to him, it is important that children who, for example, have been injured or have health problems since birth, do not get upset and do not give up.
– Such people, such personalities as you, without exaggeration, change the world, change it for the better. By your example alone, you are capable of drastically changing the fate of very many people, saving them from despair or giving hope, opening new horizons and faith in the infinity of your possibilities, ” said Vladimir Putin.
For the further development of Paralympic sports in the country, the activities of the relevant ministry should be aimed at opening and supporting departments for adaptive physical education and sports, training and retraining specialists, resuming funding under the federal target program “Accessible Environment”, Senator Eduard Isakov said.
In addition, it is important, together with the Federal Center for the Training of the Sports Reserve, to determine measures to improve the Unified Schedule and to hold qualifying competitions among children with disabilities under 18, the parliamentarian is sure.
On the eve of the Winter Paralympics in Beijing, it is worth considering supporting team sports such as sledge hockey.he added. According to him, after the next Games, many athletes will go on a well-deserved rest, and only by preparing the sports reserve, it is possible to strengthen the achieved results and also triumphantly perform at the subsequent Paralympics.