The President presented state decorations to gold medallists at the London Paralympics. Five athletes were awarded the Order of Honour, and 37 – the Order of Friendship.
The Russian Paralympic team came in second in the overall team ranking thus achieving its best Paralympic result ever. The Russian athletes won a total of 102 medals, including 36 gold, 38 silver and 28 bronze medals, and set 14 world records in swimming and track-and-field.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
It feels like it was just recently (and I think it was three weeks ago) that we sent our Paralympic national team off to London. And now, we are meeting again at the Kremlin, this time to congratulate you on your outstanding results.
Indeed, in this short span of time, many striking events have taken place in your lives and in the lives of sports fans both in our nation and around the world.
I want to once again congratulate you on your outstanding performance at the XIV Paralympic Games in London. You truly demonstrated the highest level of athleticism and you also demonstrated your will and ambition to become true winners, and confidently made our team one of the leaders in Paralympic sports.
Your performance certainly made an impression on everyone. Just four years ago in Beijing, our team placed eighth in the overall rankings, and as you recall, when our Paralympians first began competing for the Soviet Union (I believe this was in Seoul), we took 12th place – the entire USSR team was only in 12th place overall. In London, we were second. This is a true achievement, simply a triumph by our national team.
I would like to particularly address those who helped our Paralympic athletes. I am not just talking about our wonderful coaches, consultants and doctors, but also the people who built special equipment, the assistants, and the sparring athletes who literally went into victory with the Paralympians hand-in-hand. I am also talking about your families and relatives, your friends who inspire you, support you and get you pumped up for competitions, who help you to withstand and overcome all your difficulties with dignity.
In the tense battle between the best of the best, you defended our nation’s athletic honour and our flag, and you made a very significant input into Russia’s overall achievements. It is absolutely fair that your bonus will be just as high as that of the Olympians, and that you will receive state decorations as well. You certainly deserve them.
”Through your outstanding performances, you are essentially encouraging and giving confidence to those who find themselves in difficult life situations, breaking the usual stereotypes and hang-ups and generally changing the public’s attitudes toward peoples’ capabilities, broadening the horizons of hope. I am certain that this is the main mission of a Paralympic athlete.“
It is no exaggeration to call the Paralympic Games a triumph of moral courage, the absolute triumph of the will, determination and faith in yourselves. I think that is precisely why, with every passing day, with each victory, the Paralympic Games have been becoming more prominent and interesting, both in our country and throughout the world. And people are not just rooting for you and appreciating the Paralympians’ unique mastery of their sports – I saw on television that the bleachers were filled and I know that millions of people are watching the [Paralympic] television broadcasts to be charged with your indomitable energy, learning from your insistency and winning attitude.
For each of us, the Paralympic athletes serve as a bright example of a positive, honest and courageous outlook on life. Through your outstanding performances, you are essentially encouraging and giving confidence to those who find themselves in difficult life situations, breaking the usual stereotypes and hang-ups and generally changing the public’s attitudes toward peoples’ capabilities, broadening the horizons of hope. I am certain that this is the main mission of a Paralympic athlete, which you are carrying out with such dignity and confidence, and in which we will always support you, gradually implementing one of the key goals of the Paralympic movement – to create all the necessary conditions for athletes to allow them to improve their mastery of their sports, inspire and delight the world.
Some progress has already been made for the practice of top level athletes. Here, we are aiming toward the very best professional standards: the educational and training process, the manufacture of technical equipment see implemented cutting-edge sports technology more and more actively.
We have built the first specialised base for training Paralympians. At the same time, our main goal, our main challenge, is to make Paralympic sports truly accessible and attractive. Here, of course, we very much count on your support. Naturally, you yourselves, your athletic and personal biographies, serve as an outstanding example for many people, but no less important is your direct participation in putting together programmes to develop sports and in working with young people.
In supporting the Paralympic movement, a great deal depends on the position of the nation’s regions and towns. I believe that officials at all levels must work on these issues more substantively and persistently, including by getting you involved in resolving challenges to create a barrier-free, accessible, comfortable environment for the life, creativity, education and work of millions of people.
Overall, I am certain that we should work more actively on promoting Paralympic sports and their constructive, positive ideas. And of course, the media play a special role. Part of that work should involve full-fledged coverage of Paralympic competitions on the television and the radio, providing direct broadcasts of performances by our stunning athletes.
I want to repeat again that it is impossible to overstate the moral and spiritual, humanitarian, and social significance of the Paralympic movement. We will put all our efforts into ensuring that Russia becomes one of its key participants, holding a confident place not just within the group of leaders in global Paralympic sports, but also among the nations where there are genuinely equal opportunities for all of the people without exception.
I once again congratulate you on your exceptional results at the Games in London and your well-deserved state decorations. Thank you for your enormous contribution to developing sports in Russia, as well as all of Russian society. I want to wish you good health, moral courage, and many more brilliant, well-deserved triumphs.
Congratulations on your victory!
We have just heard some very good, kind final words for this ceremony: “We are one nation and we must move forward!” And we will do exactly that, relying on people like you. Thank you very much for your success.