OTTAWA—A fundraiser to send the Ukrainian Paralympics team to Vancouver was held by the Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa on Tuesday evening. The Paralympic Winter Games start on March 12.
His Excellency Dr.Ihor Ostash, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Canada, presided. He explained the history of Olympic awards won by Ukrainian athletes while a video showed athletes, including disabled athletes, competing in the Olympics.
After the video, a group got up on stage and donned the blue and yellow jackets, scarves, and other sports items to be worn in Vancouver by the athletes.
Before 1996, Ukrainian athletes participated as part of the USSR Team, but in 1996 competed as the Ukrainian Team in Atlanta, winning 1 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals. In 2008 the Ukrainian Paralympic Team won 74 medals, 4th among the other teams.
The precursor to the Paralympic Games was a sporting event organized by Sir Ludwig Guttmann in Stoke Mandeville, England, in 1948. The idea was to involve British WWII veterans with spinal cord injuries in physical activity.
Four years later, the event was held in England again, but with Dutch veterans participating–the first international competition of its kind.
In 1960, Olympic-style competitions for athletes with a disability were first organized. The event was officially called the Palalympics, and was no longer limited to war veterans.
Nowadays, athletes competing in the Paralympics come from six different disability groups: Amputee, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual Disability, Wheelchair, Visually Impaired, and Les Autres, which could be a physical disability not falling under one of the other categories.
At the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games, athletes will compete in Alpine Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing and Wheelchair Curling. Athletic achievements are emphasized rather than the disability of the competitors.
Ukraine House, under the patronage of the Embassy of Ukraine, Canadian Ukraine Congress, and Canadian Friends of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee, opened officially on Feb. 11 at the Ukrainian Catholic Centre, 3150 Ash Street. (http://UkraineHouse2010.com)
Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tiding, and Doctor’s Review among many others. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.