President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends,
I would like to wish you all a warm welcome and congratulate you on your outstanding results at the IX Winter Paralympics.
It is no exaggeration to say that the results you have achieved are a real sensation. Not so long ago, in 2002, our Paralympics team had an honourable result and took fourth place overall, but just two years later, in Turin, you have confidently taken the lead over 38 other national teams, winning the most gold medals and topping the overall medals table with 33 medals, including 13 gold medals. Our athletes did not even take part in every event. We are all genuinely proud of you and your achievements. The Paralympics team has not only defended Russia’s sporting honour but has also, through its hard work and talent, laid the foundations of an excellent tradition of victory.
The Paralympics movement is gaining popularity and winning new fans all around the world. The number of people taking part in the movement is rising all the time and it is not by chance that the Paralympics in Turin are already being called one of this year’s most significant sports events.
The hard work you put into your training and the innovative methods you use are important factors, but they are not the only components of your victories. I would like to take this opportunity today to thank all of Russia’s Paralympics athletes and to thank the wonderful team of trainers and specialists who work with them. They have shared with the athletes not only their professional knowledge and experience but have also, without any doubt, given them a bit of their own soul.
Progress has been made over recent years in developing adaptation sport and the Paralympics movement in Russia. Our athletes now compete regularly in international events, and the network of sports facilities, groups and clubs for people with disabilities is expanding and has now reached more than 1,000. But we know that a great deal still remains to be done and that we still have much to learn. The state is committed to continued support for special sports programmes and infrastructure, including children’s and young people’s centres, and to providing athletes with the modern equipment you need. We very much hope, I very much hope, dear friends, that your experience and authority, your recommendations, will help us to carry out this work.
In conclusion, I would once again like to thank all the members of Russia’s Paralympics team. Your victories are not just sporting achievements but are also events of great personal significance for each one of you. “Breaking all Limits” – such was the motto of the IX Paralympics. Your achievements are fine examples indeed of people’s immense inner strength and ability to overcome difficulties and break down the barriers. From the bottom of my heart I wish you new achievements and victories in the future.
When I met here earlier with the Olympics team, I informed the athletes that we, together with members of the business community, had decided that along with the official Olympics premium, the participants would also each receive a high-class car. This works out at about $65,000 on average. I would like to tell you now that each of you will also be recompensed with a similar sum. We have this possibility and we will definitely present this money to you and you will be able to decide yourselves how to use it. I know that many of you would like to put it towards buying a home. As with the trainers of the country’s Olympics team, the trainers of the Paralympics team will also receive, in addition to what the state promised, an additional premium of around $25,000.
Once again I offer you my sincere congratulations and I wish you all the very best. Thank you very much.