A strong start for Team Russia at the Paralympics

After the first three days of competition at the Paralympics, Russia ranks first in the medals table.

Roman Petushkov won the 7.5 km sitting biathlon and 15km cross-country skiing. Source: RIA Novosti

Emma Terchenko, special to RBTH

From the first day of the Paralympic Games in Sochi, the Russian team took the lead in the overall standings. The hero of the weekend was Roman Petushkov who brought the Russian team two gold medals, in biathlon and cross-country skiing.

March 8

In the first event of the Paralympic Games, the women's visually impaired downhill, the Russian team took its first medal when Alexandra Frantseva won the bronze.

Just a few minutes later, Team Russia added two more medals to its total: a silver in the biathlon for Svetlana Konovalova and second place in the standing downhill event for Inga Medvedeva.

"Not all foreign teams can afford the trips and the equipment that we have," said Medvedeva, expressing her gratitude to the Russian Paralympic Committee in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Russia didn't have to wait long for its first gold – Roman Petushkov won the 7.5 km sitting biathlon. His closest rival, Ukrainian Maxim Yarovy was 8.2 seconds behind. Coming in third was Kozo Kubo from Japan.

"The accident changed my life for the better,” said Petushkov, who lost his legs in a car accident. “I used to be carefree, I didn't need anything in life. I didn't have any goals. I figured what will be, will be. Everything changed when I became a Paralympian. I'm not counting on anything at these Games. I will accept as many medals as God grants.”

In the other biathlon competitions, Russian athletes also stood out from the crowd. Alena Kaufman and Anna Milenina took gold and silver in the 6km standing race, respectively. "I am very happy that we managed to get off to such a good start. I hope things will continue to go well," Kaufman said in an interview with Sovetsky sport newspaper.

Vladislav Lekomtsev won the 7.5 km men's standing race. "The most difficult part was the shooting – the main thing was to handle it. Everything went well," R-Sport quoted the athlete as saying. Another Russian, Azat Karachurin, won the bronze in the same event.

Russian Mikhalina Lysova had no equal in the women's 6 km race for visually impaired athletes. Her teammate Yulia Budaleeva came in second. In the 7.5 km race for visually impaired men, Russian athlete Nikolai Polukhin came in second, losing only to Ukrainian Vitaly Lukyanenko.

March 9

Sunday began with gold for Russia when Roman Petushkov came in first in 15km cross-country skiing. Russian Paralympians took the whole podium in this race: Irek Zaripov came in second and Alexander Davidovich won the bronze.

In the standing super-G, Alexei Bugaev came in third, finishing after two athletes from Austria – Markus Zalher in first place and Matthias Lanzinger in second.

Svetlana Konovalova won the bronze medal in the sitting 12km cross-country ski event. Ukrainian Lyudmila Pavlenko took the gold.

In curling, the Russian team won 7-4 over their rivals from Finland in the group match.

March 10

On Monday, Russian skier Alexandra Frantseva added yet another medal to her collection -- winning the silver in the visually impaired women's super-G. Kelly Gallagher of the UK took the gold.

However, Frantseva was not too pleased with her results at the finish line: "We were, of course, counting on first place. But there are still three events, we will work," said the athlete in an interview with Itar-Tass.

Russia's Rushan Minnegulov took first place in the men's 20 km classic standing cross-country event. His teammate Vladislav Lekomtsev won the bronze. Ilkka Tuomisto from Finland took the silver.

"During the third round I realized that I would not give up the medal when the gap was already 50 seconds," said Minnegulov. "I knew that if I would try and hold it, the medal would be mine."

Russia's Stanislav Chokhlaev took second place in the 20 km visually impaired men's event. Brian McKeever of Canada won gold.

Russia's Anna Milenina took third place in the 15 km standing cross-country event. She was 1:38.1 seconds behind the winner, Sweden's Helen Ripa.

The Russian national team was very successful in the women's visually impaired 15 km cross-country. Elena Remizova came in first and Mikhalina Lysova won the silver. Jadwiga Skorobogataya from Belarus took home the bronze.

The curling team defeated Korea (7-5) and the U.S. (6-5).

After the first three days, the Russian Paralympians are first in the team standings with seven gold medals, 10 silver, and seven bronze. 

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