The Paralympic flame went out on Sunday, March 13 at Beijing’s National Stadium, the “Bird’s Nest”. the XIIIand The Winter Paralympics (JP) are officially closed and the baton has been handed over to the following hosts of the Winter Games in 2026: the metropolis of Milan (Italy), linked to the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski area, in the Dolomites.
An edition with a political tone
Uncertainties about the ability of Ukrainian athletes to participate in the masses of snow and ice sports, with the exclusion of the Russian and Belarusian delegations on the eve of the opening ceremony… These Games will continue to be characterized by the context geopolitical and the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops just days before their launch.
“It’s a miracle we’re here”, the chairman of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee, Valeriy Sushkevych, recalled before the start of the competition. The raised fist of the country’s athletes parading before the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Andrew Parsons, standing in the “Bird’s Nest”, on March 4, will remain one of the strong images of these Games where the tributes and expressions of support for the Ukrainians were numerous.
After the Paralympic break, the Ukrainian team flies to Istanbul (Turkey) and then stays in Warsaw (Poland) for a few days before returning to their country by bus. A number of athletes in the delegation, most notably living in Kharkov, a heavily bombed city, may not return home. Others spoke of their desire to help by donating blood, donating clothing, or providing shelter.
Ukraine has won a total of twenty-nine medals (including eleven gold) during its Games. The country finished in second place in the country ranking.
The Blues end with a highlight
France offered itself gold and silver to complete its Games. Cross-country skiers Benjamin Daviet and Anthony Chalençon finished second in the cross-country relay, defeated by the Ukrainian duo on the slopes of the Nordic venue Zhangjiakou.
“We gave everything. I’m so happy “commented Anthony Chalençon, 31, who will leave these Games with a Paralympic medal. “It was still a tough race”, argued Benjamin Daviet, who won the tenth Paralympic medal of his career, his fourth in Beijing. The 32-year-old Haut-Savoyard, France’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony, had already won gold in cross-country (sprint) and biathlon (individual) and silver in the middle distance background.
Arthur Bauchet, 21, took a third crown on the slopes of Yanqing and won the slalom event (standing category). His fourth medal in these Games, after the gold in the downhill and the super combined, as well as the bronze in the giant slalom.
“It’s magical to do it like this, especially on the last day. I started the Games in style, I finish them in style, what more could you want? †
As a reward for his achievement, the 21-year-old French skier was chosen as the flag-bearer for the French team during the closing ceremony.
Like four years ago in South Korea, France finished fourth in the standings, with a slightly less bountiful harvest, but as many titles (seven) – twelve medals in China, against twenty charms in Pyeonchang.
The invasion of the Chinese delegation
In five appearances in the Paralympic Winter Games, the Chinese had won just one medal so far: gold in curling in Pyeongchang, in 2018. They caused a sensation at home, with titles and podium finishes. Sixty-one medals, including eighteen gold: China closes this edition in first place in the country ranking.
Not a miracle recipe, according to the host nation’s athletes, just hard work: “We have worked very hard. There is no athlete on the team who does not have an injury. We had tons of muscle problems and fractures.said alpine skier Li Xiang, sixth in the super combined.
“For these athletes, every day for eleven months was: training, skiing, training, skiing† I don’t know what other country could do that.”said Dario Capelli, head coach of the Chinese Paralympic Alpine Skiing Team. And the Italian who confided to him that when he was recruited by China five years ago, his protégés were… “all beginners”†
Also a question of resources. “It’s the Chinese mentality: if they want something, they want the best. And they invest a lot of money”urges the Transalpine.
The exclusion of the Russians and Belarusians also reinforced China’s supremacy in the medal table. CIP President Andrew Parsons himself admitted on Saturday that this was not the case ” doubtless “ affected the results in “certain tests”† In Pyeongchang, the Russians and Belarusians had won 36 medals, most notably in the long distance and biathlon, disciplines where the Chinese took the podium exactly 30 times in Beijing.