Zeitung Heute : Russia rocks

The Russians did not fulfil expectations at the Olympic Games. But at the Paralympics the Team Russia is number one in the medal tally. By Zaga Gubash

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Red! Russia’s Irek Zaripov (center) and Roman Petushkov (l.) celebrate their gold and silver along with bronze medalist Enzo...X00056

With almost double the amount of medals from everyone else, Russia is dominating the medal count for the Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver. In contrast to the disappointing sixth place in the medal count for the Olympic games in February, the Russian Paralympic Team is winning medal after medal. In almost every Nordic Skiing event, they have won a medal.

One of many notable athletes is Irek Zaripov who has recently won his third gold medal in a row during the 2010 Paralympics. He was followed by two of his fellow teammates in the 12.5 km biathlon sitting race: Vladimir Kiselev for the silver medal and Roman Petushkov for the bronze. It was a victorious day for the Russian Federation, seeing all three Russian athletes on the podium together, raising their floral bouquets and waving to the cheering crowd during the flower ceremony.

Another notable win was with Anna Burmistrova, who has currently won two gold medals along with one silver medal. It was the first race for the women''s biathlon in standing and Burmistrova held a huge lead. As she was skiing in the final stretch, a fellow Russian threw a large flag in which she grabbed and carried gracefully all the way to the finish line. Anna''s team member, Alena Gorbunova would take the bronze from arriving after the silver medallist from Finland, Maija Loytynoja. Of course, we can''t forget about the other impressive medallists from the Russian Team which include Maria Iovleva, Kirill Mikhaylov, Liubov Vasilyeva, Nikolay Polukhin, Vladimir Kononov, and Mikhalina Lysova. With so many success stories for the Russian Paralympic Team in Vancouver, what can one expect in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi?

In the last Paralympic Games which resided in Torino, Russia attained the highest medal count with 33 medals. They are on a successful road yet again with the Vancouver Paralympics and are preparing themselves to compete on home soil.

In 2009, there were many meetings in Russia in regards to the future Paralympic Games in Sochi. There will be 37 functional areas that will show and create an inspirational, accessible first Paralympic Winter Games in Russia and further the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality in Russia and internationally.

During the intense meetings, two large programmes were introduced to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in hopes of changing the minds of people towards others who are living with a disability in Russia. "Paralympic Day" will be seen during the 2014 Sochi Games and the IPC has agreed to help them achieve this event. The second programme involves in making Sochi an accessible and barrier-free city by focusing in creating an environment without barriers. In order to create the perfect atmosphere for the next Winter Paralympics and in order to achieve these two programmes, there will be a volunteer programme which will help train the helpers to be sensible and give a huge amount of support towards the athletes and visitors with a disability.

The President and CEO of Sochi 2014, Dmitry Chernyshenko, explained in one of the meetings on how the 2014 Paralympics is a national priority for Russia. The main focus is to create an inspiring aura for the Winter Games in Sochi. It will give the hosting country a chance to touch the hearts of many in order to help promote Paralympic ideals and to change attitudes towards people who have a disability.

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