President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, together with his wife Olena, met with the athletes of the Ukrainian national team – champions and prize-winners of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games and awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to swimmer Maksym Krypak.
During the celebrations that took place at the arena of the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv, the head of state recalled that five weeks ago Ukraine saw off the Paralympians flying to the Games in Tokyo, and today, the country warmly welcomes them on returning home with great victories.
The President said that the national team of Ukraine at the Tokyo Paralympic Games included athletes from almost every region. They received 98 awards, the biggest number of medals – 20 medals – were won by Dnipropetrovsk region, and athletes from Donetsk region, who brought 15 awards, are in second place.
"Coaches, leaders, doctors, assistants and many other important people stand behind each medal. Therefore, our team was actually represented by athletes from 24 regions of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea," Zelenskyy said.
He also said that this year half of the athletes of the Ukrainian national team attended the Paralympics for the first time. Overcoming excitement and fear, 18 debut athletes received almost 30 medals. And mutual support among Ukrainian Paralympians helped to unleash their potential, and every second athlete won a medal.
Thus, according to the conviction of the head of state, at the 2020 Paralympic Games the Ukrainians showed unity, fearlessness and solidarity.
Zelenskyy expressed the opinion that the term "people with disabilities" is not quite suitable for Paralympic athletes.
"Throughout history, you have won nearly 600 medals in swimming, running, shooting and dozens of other sports. Your abilities are unlimited. You have superpower. You succeed in what everyone else is not always capable of. The Paralympic athletes of Ukraine always have a top rank in the team medal count. Sixth. Fifth. Third. One may say that here and thanks to you Ukraine is in the G7," the President said.
He said that the Ukrainian Paralympic team is a five-time world champion in football. In addition, the Paralympians have set hundreds of records.
"Your soul is your strength. You are record holders and supermen. You have no disabilities. You have super power. You cannot see obstacles, but you see the goal. You do not hear venom of critics, but listen to the voice of your heart. You do not stand still, you only move forward. You have shown that when Ukrainians start something on August 24, it will be a great success," Zelenskyy said.
The President conferred the title of Hero of Ukraine to swimmer Maksym Krypak, awarding him with the Order of the State. Krypak won five gold, silver and bronze medals at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games. He set a new world record in the men's 100m freestyle S10 (50.64 seconds), improving the previous record held by an athlete from Brazil 11 years by 0.23 seconds.
Also, for the first time in the history, a Ukrainian swimmer was recognized as the best athlete of the Paralympic Games.
Krypak thanked the head of state for the award and appreciated the recognition given to his achievements.
"It took 20 years to see my today's achievements. I am sincerely pleased to receive the title, and I am proud to wear it," he said.
The athlete also requested the creation of a training center for Olympians and Paralympians.
The 2020 Summer Paralympic Games were held in Tokyo from August 24 to September 5, 2021. About 4,400 athletes from 162 participating countries competed in 22 sports. The Games featured 539 medal events, which is 11 events more than at previous games.
A total of 142 Ukrainian athletes from almost all regions competed in 15 sports: badminton, rowing, cycling (track, highway), goalball, judo, athletics, table tennis, powerlifting, canoe, triathlon, swimming, shooting, archery, taekwondo, wheelchair fencing. The debuts at this Paralympics were badminton and taekwondo.
The national team received 98 awards, including 24 gold, 47 silver and 27 bronze awards, ranking sixth in the team medal count chart. Ukrainian athletes have set 26 records in four sports: swimming, athletics, shooting and rowing.