Saying goodbye to Sochi: 5 key moments from Paralympic Games
Chris Klebl, with his Men's 10km Sitting gold medal, and Brian McKeever, with his 15km free Visually Imaired gold medal, celebrate at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia on March 16, 2014. (Provided/Canadian Paralympic Committee/Matthew Murnaghan)
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, March 16, 2014 5:50PM EDT
The Sochi Paralympics drew to a close on Sunday, with Canada capturing a total of 16 medals, including seven gold, two silver and seven bronze.
While we fell short of the 19 medals won at the 2010 Vancouver Games, we still placed third in the gold medal count and fourth in the overall tally.
But while the Paralympic Games was opportunity for athletes to triumph, the event was largely overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine. Tensions remained high over the course of the Games as Russian forces took over the Crimean Peninsula,just 480 kilometres west of Sochi.
Theclosing ceremony of the SochiGamesSunday took place on the same day as a referendum on whether Crimea should seek annexation by Russia and split from Ukraine.
Despite political tensions, the Paralympic Games proved to be a success. By Mar. 11, about 300,000 tickets had been sold, beating the previous ticket-sale record set four years ago in Vancouver.Host country Russia overwhelmingly came out on top, winning a total of 80 medals. Ukraine, which ultimately ranked fourth, had the second largest overall total, at 25.
Here are some of the top moments from the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games:
Brian McKeever makes Canadian Paralympic history
Cross-country ski legend Brian McKeever made Canadian Paralympic history on Sunday when he captured his third gold medal in the men’s visually impaired 10-kilometre race.
The 34-year-old from Canmore, Alta., became the first Canadian Paralympian to win 10 gold medals during a career. Earlier in the Games, McKeever won gold in the one-kilometre sprint and in the 20-kilometre race.
Josh Dueck medals on 10-year anniversary of paralyzing accident
On the first day of the games, John Dueck won a silver medal in the men’s downhill event– an especially poignant win sinceon the same day 10 years ago,Mar. 8, he suffered a devastating accidentthat left him paralyzed from the waist down.
A former freestyle skier, Dueck, 33, became paraplegic when he overshot a demonstration jump back in 2004.
“Ten years ago today I broke my back,” Dueck said after winning his silver medal. “It was a very powerful moment in time and so was today. I think it’s a matter of coming around full circle again.”
The 33-year-old sit-skier from Kimberley, B.C. was also named Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremony of the Winter Paralympic Games.The Canadian Paralympic Committee said Dueck was chosen for having performed “in the moment.”
Dueckalso won the first gold medal of his career in the men’s super combined on Friday.
Curling gold marks historic trifecta
Skip Jim Armstrong and his team defeated Russia 8-3 to win the gold medal on Saturday.
Team Canada’s victory comes on the heels of Canada’s podium-topping performances in women’s and men’s curling at the Sochi Olympics, marking the first time a country won all three curling tournaments in the same year.
16-year-old Mac Marcoux captures one gold and two bronze medals
The youngest member of the Canadian Paralympic team Mac Marcoux captured a gold medal in Sochi in the visually impaired giant slalom on Saturdayat the tender age of 16.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native had made his way down the hill, aided by his guide Robin Femy of Mont Tremblant, Que.
Earlier in the Games, Marcoux won a bronze medal in the men’s super-G despite not being able to communicate with Femy. The headset, which Marcoux relieson to communicate with his guide, hadfailed, leaving the skier with no central vision and just six per cent peripheral vision.
But Marcoux overcame his radio malfunction and came in third place, just nine-hundredths of a second off the gold medal. Remy had attempted to shout instructions to the young skier, saying it a statement he’s “never yelled so hard” in his life.
Putin thanks Paralympic leaders
Several Western nations declined to send delegations to the opening ceremony in the midst of the Crimean crisis, but Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Paralympic leaders for leaving politics out of the Games.
Speaking to Paralympic association officials on Thursday, Putin said that Russia was not “an instigator” of the crisis.
“I would like to assure you that Russia did not initiate, it was not an instigator, of these difficult circumstances,” he said.
Putin’s comments came days afterUkraine’s first Paralympic medallist Olena Iurkovska decided to send a clear message to her troubled homeland.
“I devote my first medal in Sochi to an independent Ukraine,” said Iurkovska who won bronze in the women’s 6-kilometre sitting biathlon. “Every time I race, it will be for Ukrainian independence and peace in my country.”