Russian athletes went to the Games as neutral Paralympic Athletes from Russia under the Paralympic flag. They won 24 medals, coming in second in the overall count. The Paralympic Games were held in PyeongChang on March 9–18.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
First of all, I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate you and all our athletes on their remarkable performance at the 12th Paralympic Winter Games.
You demonstrated top performance and willpower, as well as reaffirmed our country’s firm standing among the leaders of global Paralympic sport. Moreover, you achieved this despite being in the minority. Speaking in sports terms, you were missing team players, and yet you competed on an equal footing with the world’s best Paralympic teams.
I would like to say that the whole of Russia is proud of the way you perform the Paralympic mission, which is to inspire and excite the world. You do inspire people with your resolve, optimism and energy. You show them that the force of spirit and self-confidence can overcome any difficulties and circumstances, and that no obstacle can prevent one from acting and doing good for your loved ones, for society and the country.
This difficult situation for global sports, including Paralympic sports, has revealed your unique personalities, your ability to take the blow and the zeal for victory with which you live.
These Winter Paralympics marked 30 years since Russia took part in its first Paralympic games in 1988, and they were also the most difficult games.
However, you did not succumb to emotional pressure or the ban on national symbols. You composed yourselves and won as many medals as you wanted to and could win. You did not do it with numbers but with abilities. We applauded your courage and your skills.
Take, for example, the extraordinary performance by our women in the mixed and open relays. They competed against national teams that included both men and women. Our Paralympic athletes had to prove their worth whenever they competed. This makes the medals they have won even more precious.
Here I would like to mention Yekaterina Rumyantseva, who competed in her first Paralympic Games, winning three gold and two silver medals. Mikhalina Lysova and her guide, Alexei Ivanov, also performed excellently. Anna Milenina and Alexei Bugayev demonstrated an unwavering will to win.
Let me emphasise that all athletes who competed in the Paralympics are worthy of our admiration and gratitude. I would like to mention those who helped our Paralympic athletes to complete this long and arduous journey to success. I would like to thank their wonderful coaches, doctors, training specialists, designers of their equipment, assistants and guides, who literally helped the athletes achieve their victories.
I am sure that it was not easy for you to accept that not all of your trainees took part in the Paralympics. But you should know that the whole country shares this disappointment.
We will do everything in order to support these courageous and honest people, so they continue to inspire with their talent and perseverance everyone who finds themselves in a challenging life situation. Among other things, we will hold a number of competitions for Paralympic athletes this year. Of course, the prize money will be comparable to the awards granted to the medallists of the PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games.
It goes without saying that we will keep fighting for Russia’s reputation in sports, and the honour of all clean athletes, promoting sports free from politics and double standards. We must prove our country’s commitment to the ideals of sport by our actions, based on the high humanitarian values and the equal opportunities principle.
Specifically, the Russian Foreign Ministry, having successfully supported our athletes in Korea, must revive system-wide efforts of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO with a view to improving the International Convention against Doping in Sport in order to ensure that its provisions are fair and totally transparent.
Once again, I congratulate all Paralympic athletes and their mentors on the extraordinary results at the Paralympics in Korea, and I thank them for making a major contribution to the development of sport in Russia. I thank you for serving as role models for Russian society and the whole world, showing that having a proactive attitude and dignity, as well as loving your Fatherland is essential for all of us.
I wish you good health and fortitude and, of course, new outstanding victories.
Congratulations on your success.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, please accept once again my sincere congratulations on your victories and on receiving the decorations today.
When I was awarding one of the participants, I asked and would like to ask again, how do you do this? Of course, families, coaches and experts play a huge role, but you have something that is hugely important. As you said, it is in your hearts, your souls and in your zeal for victory.
I would like to thank you for this and wish you every success. Your victories are spectacular, exciting and we respect and admire them. I wish you new victories.
Thank you very much.