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The Paralympic Games ended after nine days and 78 events which took place against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sunday’s closing ceremony marked the end of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games and centered on a message of peace and unity.
“The differences here have not divided us,” said Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, in an address to the gathered crowd.
“Because of this unity, we have hope. Hopes for inclusion, hopes for harmony and above all hopes for peace,” Parsons said. “Humanity hopes to live in a world where dialogue prevails.”
China paved the way
Among the competing nations, host nation China won the most medals with 18 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze for a total of 61.
Among China’s achievements was the ice hockey team’s first Paralympic appearance just five years after its formation. The team won bronze and Jing Yu made history by becoming the second woman to win a Paralympic medal in ice hockey.
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Ukraine has shown resilience despite war at home
Ukraine followed in second place with 29 medals: 11 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze. This is the highest number of medals ever won by the country at the Paralympic Winter Games. The performance and appearance of the Ukrainian athletes was not just about athleticism, but also about perseverance and strength as their home country was overrun the week before the games started.
With their victories, the Ukrainian athletes took the time to draw attention to what was happening in their country, including concerns about their friends and families back home.
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Ukrainian biathlete Dmytro Suiarko, who won bronze in the mid-distance visually impaired event, said he had trouble concentrating in the biathlon because of what was happening. Suiarko said his house was “bombed and destroyed” during games.
The invasion of Russia prompted the International Paralympic Committee to ban all Russian athletes from participating in the games. The committee also banned athletes from Belarus, a key Russian ally, from competing.
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The United States won gold in para ice hockey
On the final day of the games, the United States and Canada faced off on the ice in what was a rematch of sorts from four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The United States won the gold medal with a 5-0 victory over their Canadian rivals. The victory marked the fourth consecutive Paralympic ice hockey title for Team USA.
Overall, the United States was fourth in total medals with six gold, 11 silver and three bronze for a total of 20. Canada was third in total medals with 25.
The United States also won gold medals in different categories of snowboarding, biathlon and cross-country skiing.
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In snowboarding, Brenna Huckaby won gold in the women’s bench slalom – in which she also won gold in 2018. Before she could compete in this year’s games, Huckaby had to file an injunction with a German court to even participate in the games.
She said the fight was worth it and called the medal “the icing on the cake” in an Instagram post after her podium ceremony. Huckaby also won the bronze medal in snowboard cross.