Ukrainian Paralympic Athletes Succeed in During Conflict

Ukrainian Paralympic athletes have had a lot of success even though there is a war in their country.

Courtesy of The Guardian

Ukrainian Paralympic athletes have had a lot of success even though there is a war in their country.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

As the Paralympics take place, athletes from Ukraine have proven to be very successful even though there is currently a war taking place in their country. As of March 8, 2022, the Ukrainian Paralympic medal count is second with 17 medals. Multiple Ukrainian athletes have been dominating in their respective sports, and they have been using their media coverage to draw more attention to the conflict that is currently taking place in their homeland. 

One Paralympic athlete who has been performing well is Vitalii Lukianenko. Lukianenko medaled in  the middle distance vision impaired race, and this victory, along with his other past victories, has resulted in him being one of the most successful Paralympics athletes of all time. Another successful Ukrainian success came from Iryna Bui, Oleksandra Kononova, and Liudmyla Liashenko earning a sweep of the podium in the women’s Para biathlon middle distance standing event.

Even though Ukraine has been achieving many victories during the Paralympics, athletes are still being heavily impacted by the conflict in their country. When interviewed, Oleksandra Kononova stated that, “Emotionally it’s very difficult to focus and to concentrate on the race and the competition, so this is the most difficult Paralympic Games for me.” Despite her struggles, Kononova was still able to pull off impressive victories that proved the resilience of the Paralympic athletes and the people of Ukraine.

Despite the success, some Ukrainian athletes had to withdraw from their events. Anastasia Laletina was going to compete in the biathlon middle distance sitting race, but she withdrew from the event when she learned that her father had been imprisoned by Russians. Liudmyla Liashenko also withdrew from her cross-country event upon learning that her home had been destroyed. These examples have shown the extent that these Ukrainian athletes are suffering because of the struggles in their country.

In order to address the conflict in Ukraine, many Ukrainian athletes have different plans to help their nation. Ukrainian-born athlete Oksana Masters is planning to donate her winnings from her gold medal to No Child Forgotten, an organization that will help support disabled children in Ukraine. Another athlete, Taras Rad, said that when returning to Ukraine, he will volunteer to join the Ukrainian army to help fight for his country.

The future for these athletes are unclear. At the moment, they are doing their best in the face of tragedy. According to Piper Guyton (11) “The resilience of Ukrainian Paralympic athletes is impressive.” The Ukrainian Paralympics athletes represent the greater resilience of the Ukrainian people. With so much uncertainty, sadness, and fear, these athletes have shown the world what it means to persevere.