After 10 days of excitement in PyeongChang the Winter Paralympics have come to a close, we had 10 days of thrills and spills and the world witnessed athletes who have fought against their injuries and disabilities to prove to the world they are top class athletes and every single athlete has been recognised in their home nation and across the globe as a hero. There were a few moments, which truly stole the show, but all 567 athletes from 49 countries will all take home their own headlines.
Record Breaking Games
80 gold medals were handed out across the games, USA finished top of the table for the first time since 1992 with 13 Golds, 15 Silver and 8 Bronze Medals. 30 Russian athletes were allowed to compete under the Neutral Paralympics Athletes flag and finished in second place with 24 medals, 8 of which were Gold.
We were honored to see a first appearance at the games for Georgia, North Korea and Tajikistan; they all battled well in their respective events but couldn’t reach the podium. China who will be hosting the next games in 2022 managed to win their first Gold medal and it will be an exciting 4 years as they train to improve in time to impress their home fans, Kazakhstan, Croatia and South Korea also took home their first ever Winter Paralympics Gold medals.
Records tumbled at the games, across the six events we saw Paralympics and World records fall as athletes continue to break boundaries and dazzle us with their talents. But away from the action PyeongChang and South Korea will be able to boast about the success of the games for a long time. More medals were handed out in PyeongChang than any previous Paralympics and the spread of countries was greater than ever before with 26 different countries reaching the podium with 20 winning Gold! Locals turned out in the hordes to watch the games as ticket sale records were also smashed, internationally 629 accredited media sources provided coverage of the games with 47 channels broadcasting on TV across 100 countries! And on Social Media a record number of videos were watched on official Paralympics platforms, beating London 2012 and Sochi 2014 combined.
South Korea making history and headlines
The Korean athletes were initially set a target of 4 medals, 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals with a top 10 finish. This looked potentially out of reach but after the success at the Winter Olympics we were hopeful they could do even better here. Unfortunately the athletes just missed out on their targets, winning 3 medals, 1 Gold and 2 Bronze’s finishing 16th overall on the medal table (a top 10 finish would have required 3 Gold and 3 silver medals!)
Sin Eui Hyun has been the nations favorite over the last 2 weeks since he won Korea’s first medal of the games in the Sitting 15km Cross Country Skiing. But he was not done there and he made it to the final of the 1.1km Sprint before his favoured 7.5km event. Ranked 9th overall before the games Sin Eui Hyun had managed two podium-finishes building up to the games and his confidence was high. As he entered the final kilometer of the race it was set to be a tense finish with American Daniel Cnossen just 2 seconds behind him but he could not be stopped, with the roaring crowd urging him home he managed to extend his lead and came home 5 seconds ahead of the American and it was party time in the stands as Korea celebrated their first ever Winter Paralympics Gold!
Earlier that day Korea had won their second Bronze of the games, the Para Ice Hockey team who had come into the competition hopeful of a win and had only been stopped by eventual Gold and Silver medalists, USA and Canada. South Korean athletes were flying on the ice and came up against Italy for the Bronze Medal game. It was a tight game and both teams came close to winning but Jang Dong Shin scored in the third period to secure a 1-0 victory for the home nation. President Moon Jae-in was in attendance at the game and celebrations afterwards showed what the game meant to everyone involved as team captain Han Min-su was seen in tears hugging the president on the ice after the game.
Curling became the most watched event in South Korea when the Garlic Girls were so dominant a month ago and the popularity of the sport continued as the Wheelchair Curling team took to the ice and continued to show dominance. They finished top of the table with a 9-2 record but couldn’t continue their success in the knockout stages, suffering an agonizing extra end defeat to Norway in the Semi Finals. They then faced Canada for the Bronze medal but Canada showed their class and experience at the top level to defeat Korea 5-3. Korea may have missed out on their 4th medal of the games but the team must be proud of themselves to be so successful.
We’ve had a great time watching the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games and are so proud of everybody who made it a success in PyeongChang, it wasn’t just the athletes taking part but everyone who has helped out and cheered them on to show it has shown the world what South Korea can do when the spotlight is on us and we can’t wait till Beijing 2022 to bring back even more medals!
By Imran Ali