Paralympics Come to a Close

The 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia ended on Sunday after nine days of competition.

The games are held every four years after the traditional Olympics in the same city, at the same venues.  The games were introduced at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and have been a tradition ever since.  They are held for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and the events are made to fit the competitors’ needs.

The games featured 72 events in five sports and 550 athletes.  The United States had the most athletes with 74, but they were no match for Russia’s skill.  Russia beat everyone, taking 80 medals that included 30 gold, 28 silver and 22 bronze.  Germany had the second most gold with nine.  Coming in at a not-so-close second place in the medal count was none other than Russia’s political counterpart, Ukraine, with 25 total medals.

The sports that were included in the games were alpine skiing with 32 different events, the biathlon with 18 different events, cross country skiing with 20 events, ice sledge hockey and wheel chair skiing.  United States took the gold in the headliner which was ice sledge hockey.

Amidst all the controversy going on with Russia and the rest of the world, it is important to embrace these events.  It’s very hard to say where all of this conflict is going to lead but this celebration of peace and unity is something that must cherished at these times.  It truly shows that people can set aside differences and come together, even if for just a short couple of days.  “Thank you very much for the inspiration that you have given millions of people, who are ready to do as you do and not just engage in sport and fitness, but set the highest goals in life,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said according to the Kremlin website.  “You have shown us these high achievements.”

The controversies between Ukraine and Russia were not ignored going into these games.  “If there is an escalation of the conflict, intervention on the territory of our country, God forbid the worst, we would not be able to stay here,” said  Valeriy Sushkevic head of the Ukraine’s National Paralympic Committee.  “We would go.”  All of the participants from all 45 of the participating nations remained safe in the end.