Ukraine’s athletes put a difficult week behind them as they clinched seven medals including three golds in biathlon to move to the top of the medal table on an emotional first day at the Beijing Winter Paralympics on Saturday.
The 20-member Ukrainian contingent almost didn’t make it to the Chinese capital after Russia invaded their country just over a week ago, and Saturday’s winners appealed for peace and dedicated their medals to people back home.
Grygorii Vovchynskyi, who claimed gold in the men’s sprint standing event over Germany’s Marco Maier at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre, said it was difficult to focus on sport given the events back home, but he found a way to win.
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“When war started in Ukraine, every day I was thinking about how I can help my people, my free country, my president, how I can support the team, how I can help,” the 33-year-old told reporters.