Putin envisions Russia as Paralympic powerhouse

September 11th, 2012 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 11 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia must anchor its position among the leaders of the world Paralympic movement and more broadly ensure equal opportunities for all, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Putin hosted a Kremlin awards ceremony honouring the winners of Russia’s 36 gold medals at the London Paralympics, a record performance easily eclipsing previous Games.

“We will invest all our efforts to make sure that Russia becomes its key player,” Putin said of the Paralympic movement.

“So that her position is fixed not only in world Paralympic sport, but also among nations that provide truly equal opportunities for all citizens of our country, without exception.”

For this to happen, local authorities must ensure Paralympic sport becomes accessible and attractive, Putin said.

“I think that leaders of all levels must undertake these tasks more meaningfully and persistently, taking important decisions to create a barrier-less, accessible and comfortable environment for the life, education and work of millions of people.”

Putin also noted the media bear a certain responsibility to promote disabled sports by featuring them more heavily in programming.

Monumental efforts particularly in athletics, where 19 gold were won, and the pool, the scene of 13 Russian victories, propelled Russia to runner-up in the medal table behind China.

The performance in London continues an encouraging upward trend in the Russian Paralympic movement after the team took home 18 golds in Beijing four years ago, 16 at Athens 2004, 15 at Sydney 2000 and just nine at Atlanta 1996.

Russia scooped a total 102 medals.

The Chinese were long out of sight at the top, racking up 95 gold, 71 silver and 65 bronze.

Hosts Britain came a close third with 34 gold.

The top Russian performer was swimmer Oksana Savchenko, who took home five gold medals, claiming a world record in the 50 metres freestyle Thursday.

Russia’s archers swept the podium in the men’s standing category; with Timur Tuchinov beat Oleg Shestakov in the final.

Other notable performances came from sprinter Margarita Goncharova, who claimed gold in the women’s 100 metres, and Alexei Ashapatov, who sealed gold in the men’s discus for athletes in wheelchairs.

The next Paralympic Games are in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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