The cauldron was extinguished on one of the vital formidable Winter Paralympics in historical past Sunday, with “hopes of peace,” and two years into the COVID-19 world pandemic that made simply attending to the Video games a herculean effort.
Canada produced its second-best efficiency in historical past – exceptional contemplating the massive hurdles posed by the pandemic.
Worldwide Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons delivered a speech about unity with conflict raging in Ukraine, saying “Variations right here didn’t divide us.
“By way of this unity now we have hope,” he stated. “Hopes for inclusion, hopes for concord and importantly hopes for peace. Humankind hopes to stay in a world the place dialogue prevails.”
Alpine skier Mollie Jepsen carried Canada’s flag into the closing ceremony to Beethoven’s Ode to Pleasure on the Chicken’s Nest stadium, calling it the “honour of a lifetime.” The 22-year-old from West Vancouver, B.C., received silver and gold regardless of racing on torn knee ligaments that may require surgical procedure as soon as she returns house.
Beijing is the second Paralympics to be held in the course of the world pandemic. Canadian athletes confronted a number of the world’s greatest hurdles to get the Video games, owing to tight journey restrictions that restricted alternatives to compete and strict lockdowns that closed coaching services.
And so, Canada didn’t set a medal goal for Beijing. It was too robust to gauge how the workforce stacked up towards the remainder of the world.
However capped by a silver Sunday by Canada’s parahockey workforce and bronze in cross-country snowboarding’s combined relay, the workforce heads house with 25 medals – eight gold, six silver and 11 bronze. It’s Canada’s second-best winter medal haul after the 28 captured 4 years in the past in South Korea.
“It’s a large success on so many ranges,” stated Canada’s chef de mission, Josh Dueck. “I’m completely tickled pink.
“I take into consideration every of the person performances which have amassed to that time. And like all Video games, there’s moments of glory, the place we go to the rostrum ceremony, and we hear the anthem. And there’s additionally these moments the place there’s been close to misses or the whole misses which can be additionally vital, too, as a result of all people’s exhibiting up and supporting each other.”
Canada’s Nordic workforce led the best way with 14 medals. Brian McKeever, a 42-year-old from Canmore, Alta., capped his spectacular profession with three gold medals. He has 16 profession victories, tying Gerd Schoenfelder of Germany for essentially the most titles by a male winter Paralympian. Natalie Wilkie, a 21-year-old from Salmon Arm, B.C., skied to 2 gold, plus a silver and bronze, whereas Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., added a gold, silver and two bronze for 12 profession medals.
Just like the Summer time Paralympics six months earlier, the Winter Video games posed distinctive challenges amid strict pandemic protocols that meant no associates or members of the family could possibly be in attendance. All contributors had been examined each day, whereas entry within the “closed loop” system was restricted to accommodations, venues and media centres.
“What I take into consideration greater than the medal rely right here is how, due to the distinctive occasions that we’re in, with out family and friends, and all the opposite tensions, it’s solid the workforce in ways in which perhaps it’s by no means been earlier than,” stated Dueck, a three-time Paralympic medallist in sit-skiing. “We’ve needed to depend on one another in methods which elevated the entire program.”
The Video games had opened with an impassioned plea for peace after Russia – with assistance from Belarus – invaded Ukraine simply eight days earlier. Russia and Belarus, initially permitted to compete, had been banned in an unprecedented reversal by the Worldwide Paralympic Committee a day earlier than the Video games opened.
Ukraine’s workforce of simply 20 athletes captured an unimaginable 29 medals to complete second behind host China’s 61 – 18 gold, 20 silver, and 23 bronze – many arriving after a harrowing four-day journey.
“It’s humbling, and it’s emotional,” Dueck stated of Ukraine’s presence on the Video games. “It’s onerous understanding that we’re excited to go house to our household and understanding that they might not have a house to go to, or they might not have household there.
“So, after we see the depth and the ferocity that they compete with, as a result of they’re competing with all of their coronary heart and in ways in which perhaps we don’t even perceive, it’s onerous to grasp. It’s onerous to explain. It’s highly effective and really humbling to be within the presence of individuals which can be going by such issue that I don’t suppose any of us actually perceive how difficult and the way terrible it should be.”
Parsons, who made a passionate plea for peace on the opening ceremony March 4 – a lot of which was censored on China’s state-run broadcast – was extra refined Sunday.
“You promised easy, secure and splendid,” he instructed the Beijing organizing committee. “You delivered gorgeous, safe and spectacular.”
To the almost 600 athletes from 46 international locations, he stated: “Through the darkest of occasions, your performances shone brightly. Moderately than depend on historical past, you created it. On ice and on snow, you produced moments of magic and moments to savour. Within the face of adversity, you confirmed power in range.”
Governor-Common Mary Simon thanked Canada’s workforce of 48 athletes plus 4 guides for “showcasing Canadian excellence to the world.”
“The Paralympics enchantment to one of the best in us. The dedication that’s required to change into a Paralympian requires nothing lower than constant effort over a lifetime. To persist by harm, setbacks, lack of motivation and numerous different hardships,” Simon stated in a press release.
“This angle represents the spirit of ajuinnata, an Inuktitut phrase which means, amongst different issues, to by no means quit! Paralympians are shining examples of this idea. Your perseverance and onerous work reminds us all of our potential potential to show adversity into power.”
The Paralympics ended a close to six-week run of worldwide sports activities within the Chinese language capital that started with the opening of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 4.
It additionally ends a run for Asia of internet hosting 4 of the final eight Olympics and Paralympics, beginning with the 2008 Beijing Summer time Video games.
The following Summer time Olympics and Paralympics are in 2024 in Paris, adopted by Winter Video games in Milan-Cortina, Italy in 2026.