News, 12/03/2018

Kharkivite Wins First Gold at 12th Winter Paralympics

March 10, Kharkiv biathlete Vitaliy Lukyanenko attained first place at biathlon 7.5 km for visually impaired at 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

This was the first gold for Ukraine and the fifth time Lukyanenko became the Paralympic champion.

The same day Kharkivites Oksana Shyshkova won silver and Liudmyla Lyashenko won bronze.

The day before the biathlete was a flag bearer for Ukraine at the opening ceremony of the 12th Winter Paralympics and therefore “he dispelled the superstition that flag bearers do not win,” says Radio Svoboda.

This year 33 athletes represent the national team of Ukraine, six of them are from the Kharkiv region: Liudmyla Lyashenko, Vitaliy Sytnik, Vitaliy Lukyanenko, Oleksandr Makhotkin, Yuri Utkin and Oksana Shyshkova.

39-year-old Lukyanenko is the most experienced sportsman in the National Paralympic team of Ukraine, he took part in all Paralympic Games where Ukraine competed.

The athlete was born in Sumy, later he moved to Kharkiv to study and he still lives here. Vitaliy has three children and loves fishing. He competes in the visually impaired category as he is classified B3, with functional vision under 10 percent.

The champion says he started skiing with regular athletes when he was 10, although his vision was deteriorating which led to joining the Paralympic team. Lukyanenko believes that regular physical exercise helps to support his health and spirit. He wanted to quit competitions after his victory at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi but recommenced skiing after a two-year pause.

Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Radio Svoboda