‘Our pride’: Russian Paralympians secure record medal haul in Tokyo as Games come to a close
The Closing Ceremony in Tokyo called time on an event which – just like its Olympic counterpart earlier this summer – was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Beset by similar fears of coronavirus outbreaks, Olympic organizers and locals will likely be relieved to see the show roll on to Paris in 2024.
However, the Paralympians themselves can look back on another remarkable event at which they captured attention around the world with some sensational performances.
That included from members of the Russian team, this year competing under the banner of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) due to ongoing WADA sanctions.
The RPC team racked up a record tally of 118 medals in Tokyo – beating the haul of 102 they had accrued in London in 2012 – to put them fourth in the overall medal table.
In total, Russian representatives claimed 36 goal, 33 silver and 49 bronze medals in Japan.
That put them behind only China (who topped the table with 96 gold, 60 silver and 51 bronze), Great Britain (41-38-45) and the USA (37-36-31).
“Our team felt serious support and was able to show a worthy result, retaining its leading position in the international arena and taking fourth place in the medal standings,” said Pavel Rozhkov, acting head of the RPC.
“In general, I can say that throughout all the Games our athletes have delighted us with good results, and sometimes even unexpected ones.”
That praise was echoed elsewhere, as Russian athletes returned to the Paralympics for the first time since 2012, having been hit with a blanket ban in Brazil five years ago amid the doping scandal which rocked Russian sport.
“I have great respect for the Paralympic movement," beamed famed Russian figure-skating trainer Tatiana Tarasova.
“God grant that the same conditions be created for them as for all other athletes. They are our pride.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko had similar words of support.
“All Russian Paralympic athletes who competed in Tokyo raised the bar and unambiguously increased the intensity of competition,” said the official.
“I congratulate all the winners and prize-winners of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, I wish you strength of spirit and new victories.”
Chernyshenko made special mention of Russian multiple medal winners in Tokyo.
Three Russian swimmers scooped a hat-trick of golds in Japan: Valeria Shabalina, Roman Zhdanov, and Andrey Kalina.
Five Russian stars won double gold: Andrey Nikolaev and Bogdan Mozgovoi in the pool, Mikhail Astashov in the road and track cycling, Alexander Kuzyukov in wheelchair fencing, and Dmitry Safronov on the athletics track.Also on rt.com ‘That’s his business’: Russian record-breaker reacts after Ukrainian reportedly snubs photo beside him on Paralympics podium again