PARALYMPIC GAMES IN SOCHI (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK, for Russia Today)

The colorful closing ceremony brought down the curtain on the XIth Paralympic Winter Games. But british media paid little attention to these great competitions. Nine days of competition which featured 547 disabled athletes from 45 countries ended as the Paralympic flame went off on its tower in Sochi’s Olympic Park.

The Paralympic flag was handed over to the organizers of the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, who staged a brief show featuring traditional dance and calligraphy.

The Sochi Games featured 72 medal events in five sports, the highest number for any Winter Paralympics to date.

Around 325,000 tickets were sold for the Sochi Paralympics, organizers said earlier in the day. That is around 90,000 more than the Winter Games record set in Vancouver in 2010.

Russia topped the final standings, winning a total of 80 Winter Paralympic medals, more than any country in history.

Paralympic athletes have been getting a lot of coverage. It will be no exaggeration to say that Paralympic athletes are more than simply sportspeople, and in addition to their mission in sports they play an important social role too.

President Vladimir Putin said, while congratulating sportsmen, that it is impossible to list all achievements made and all brilliant performances at the Paralympics. He called all members of Russian Paralympics team “heroes and certainly heroes of sport”.

For everyone in Russia it is the great honor that our athletes gave us the best overall team result not only in the history of Russia’s Paralympic teams, but in the history of all national teams for as long as the Paralympics have been held.

International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven declared the Sochi Games as the best Paralympic Winter Games ever.

One of the most important thing is that Paralympic Games hugely advanced the effort to create a barrier-free environment in Russia. The Games are over, but the work in this field will continue throughout our vast country. Good result.