The Paralympics in 2018 that took place in South Korea, this year was very successful for Ukraine. All in all Ukrainian sportsmen got 22 medals and came sixth in the rating of all the countries that participated. But behind these dry statistics there is struggle, pain and life of ordinary people that have to fight with their diseases, face misunderstanding from the society and train exceptionally hard. In this article you will read the stories of some of the paralympic champions from Ukraine.
Oksana Shishkova became the medal record-breaker in this year Paralympics bringing 6 medals to the Ukrainian team, two of which were gold. Oksana takes part in competitions for people with visual impairment, she is only 26 years old and she’s been training since the age of 13.
The type of sports she got medals in this year were the Biathlon and sprints. An interesting fact is that Oksana is actually a cynologist and has a degree in this specialty.
The first gold medal was taken by Vitaliy Lukianenko. He sprinted the distance of 7.5 km in 19 min and 51 seconds and came first among the other sportsmen with visual impairment. Vitaliy would also win the competition on the number of participations in Paralympics as he’s been taking part in the competition since 1998. This year Vitaliy won the second gold medal coming first in the 15 km run which was the 6th gold medal in his career.
Ludmila Liashenko is a Ukrainian biathlonist who this year got the first medal for the Ukrainian team. Ludmila got a bronze medal in a 6km biathlon showing the best result of 18 min and 21 seconds. Several days later she got another bronze in a 15 min ski run and another in a 10km biathlon run. But her main achievement this year was a gold medal in the mixed relay ski race which Ludmila got on the last day of Paralympics. Since her childhood Ludmila was diagnosed with the incomplete development of upper and lower limbs. She lived and studied in the boarding school since the age of four and was invited to take part in her first international competition in 2012. Now Ludmila is 24 years old and definitely has many more victories ahead.
Ihor Reptiuh took 3 medals this year, one of which was a gold medal in the 20km ski run. At the age of five Ihor, the youngest child in the family lost all of his fingers on the left hand due to a household injury. But already in the 7th year of school he started to take part in sport competitions and since 2010 Ihor started training in the Biathlon and Ski Running.
Maxim Yarovyj got his first gold medal in his career this year in Pyeongchang. At the age of 14 Maxim had a spine injury, since then he has only been able to move in a wheelchair. His mum was trying to find a hobby for her son, they tried several things, first it was painting, then guitar, then computers (which became Maxim’s official profession). But as Maxim says sports is the only thing that gives him real freedom. Before standing on skies Maxim tried swimming, but swimming in the swimming pool from one side to another, according to his own words, wasn’t too interesting. The sportsman chose skies because it makes him feel free and the view changes all of the time. In 2018 Maxim got his first Gold medal in the sport that he likes the most and hopefully this medal was not be the last one.
These are not all but only those paralympic sportsman from Ukraine who brought the most medals to the country this year. Considering the level of infrastructure and social support for people with disabilities in Ukraine some people get really surprised seeing how many medals Ukraine got this year.
People’s opinions are divided. Some of them think that such a good result comes due to the lack of this infrastructure. People with disabilities don’t get any support that’s why they must have a strong will to survive. They train, they work and they are used to difficulties due to the lack of good conditions in their everyday life.
Other people don’t follow this theory. In their opinion conditions of everyday life don’t matter at all and everything depends on the character of each individual. What is your opinion? Feel free to share it in the comments.