by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern
The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games concluded Sunday, March 13. In covering Paralympic athletes who are blind or visually impaired, we are highlighting Team Ukraine. Despite the crisis back home, these athletes not only participated, but also won multiple medals in the biathlon and cross-country skiing events. Dmytro Suiarko, a 25-year-old cross-country skier and biathlete, suffered a personal loss when his house was destroyed in a bombing on March 7. After winning a bronze medal in the men’s middle distance vision impaired biathlon, he “spoke powerfully: ‘I am happy, but you know the situation in Ukraine. Very hard concentration is needed in biathlon and I missed twice because yesterday my house where I live was bombed and destroyed.’” Suiarko‘s other medals included one gold and one bronze in cross-country skiing. His teammates achieved success as well, even completing two podium sweeps at the National Biathlon Centre. In the men’s middle distance vision-impaired biathlon, athletes Vitaliy Lukyanenko won gold and Anatolii Kovalevskyi won silver. Overall, Team Ukraine finished in second place, behind China, winning 29 medals. Congratulations Team Ukraine – and wishing them a safe return home. For more information about Team Ukraine and their accomplishments, read The Guardian: “Winter Paralympics: Ukraine complete double biathlon podium sweep”, and this article from People Magazine, “Ukraine Wins Second-Most Medals at 2022 Winter Paralympics amid Russian Invasion: ‘A Miracle’”.