President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I would like to repeat what I already said when I presented state decorations to your teammates: I wholeheartedly share your joy over the successful performance of the Russian team at the Tokyo Paralympics. Thank you very much, and congratulations.
These were long-awaited Games for our incredible Paralympians. It is obvious that the over-politicised situation that prevented team Russia from competing at the Rio Games did not break your fighting spirit, or undermine your faith in justice and Paralympic values, the faith in yourselves and your power, or your dedication to leading the pack and being the best in the world.
You gave everything you had, which was apparent even before the event, as you prepared for the competition. During the Games, you have had to endure tremendous physical and emotional stress. As I have said before, make no mistake that every medal you won in Tokyo, every gold, every silver and every bronze medal, proved the excellence of the Russian athletes, the greatness of our country as a sports nation, offering us yet another occasion to be proud of our nation.
When you were leaving for Tokyo, we believed that you had great potential, and had faith in the unbendable will of the Russian Paralympians. With your results and victories, you have demonstrated what you are worth. You did not let us down. You have shown the best performance in the history of Russian Paralympic sports by winning 118 medals and setting 17 world records, becoming the true heroes of these Games.
I noted that one of your teammates said that you made double the effort in Tokyo in order to make up for the competitions you missed in Rio.
Our swimmers’ performance was an absolute triumph. Thanks to their phenomenal determination to win and excellent training, they set new Paralympic records and won half of the gold medals for the Russian national team.
Russian swimmers won 49 medals in Tokyo. Three of our athletes became triple champions. It is a brilliant result. Once again, congratulations.
Track and field athletes demonstrated so many inspiring achievements. Many of them also set world records and stood on the podium multiple times. They won 38 medals.
Our cyclists’ performance will absolutely go down in history of the Paralympic movement and world sports, thanks to their two records and three outstanding victories.
Russian fencers have taken their well-deserved place among the Paralympic elite. It is the first victory for the Russian fencing team. Our Paralympians won bronze, silver and gold medals.
Our table tennis players also won medals of all three tiers, showing some serious progress in their skills and, therefore, performance.
I would like to praise the brilliant success of our athletes in the archery mixed team competition where they took gold and bronze.
By the way, it is bronze medallist Stepanida Artakhinova’s birthday. Let’s wish her a happy birthday.
Our volleyball team also showed a commendable performance. For the first time in the history of Russia’s participation in the Paralympics, our athletes have won medals in taekwondo, kayaking, canoeing and boccia. They fought until the very end and fell only slightly behind the leaders, which speaks for our teams’ great potential. They only need to make one more step forward to reach the top of the table.
In judo, powerlifting and pistol shooting, our athletes focused all their strength to fight for the Paralympic awards. I would like to note that sometimes, bronze is no different from the gold, because, I want to definitely stress this, the Paralympians are remarkable, amazing people regardless of which step of the podium they have climbed, whether they have broken a record or achieved a modest result. What I am saying is, no award or regalia can really appreciate you. Every one of you – I would like to emphasise this – without any exaggeration, is the pride of this country, the treasure of our entire society.
Such people, such personalities as you, without exaggeration, can change the world, and change it for the better. Just by setting an example, you can drastically change the lives of so many people, save them from despair or give them hope, open up new horizons and make them believe their capabilities are practically limitless.
You of all people know what real problems, real difficulties are. Many of you grew up in difficult life circumstances and your path towards your bright and remarkable victories has not been easy; you had to work towards them for years, constantly overcoming yourselves and countless obstacles. And your wonderful coaches and mentors have always been there for you. Their dedicated work has earned them the deepest respect, gratitude and of course, the all-round support that the state will always provide to the Paralympians.
I would like to address especially warm words to your families – your mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and all your relatives and friends who have supported and helped you cover this difficult but also glorious path, have always believed in your success. So these Paralympic awards are their huge personal victory, too. We appreciate what they did for you.
Once again, I sincerely congratulate you on your excellent sporting achievements and the state decorations you absolutely deserve. We are all sincerely fascinated by each of you. And I wish you great new achievements, both in sports and in life, bright triumphs for the glory of our beloved Motherland.
(The Russian Anthem plays.)