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SOCHI, March 08, /ITAR-TASS/. President Vladimir Putin said he was hopeful that the Russian team would keep the pace it had set at the start of the Sochi Paralympics.
“It was a very much expected start and maybe even more than we had expected - 12 medals, including four gold ones. Great! There will be many more starts in the coming days, and I do hope that the team will keep the pace you have set,” Putin said at a meeting with the Paralympics medalists on Saturday, March 8.
“It was just a warm-up,” one of the athletes said in reply.
Russia won 12 medals on the first day of the Sochi Paralympics four gold medals, six silver and two bronze ones - and is at the top of the medal standings.
Gold was won by biathletes Roman Petushkov (men’s 7.5 km, sitting), Alena Kaufman (ladies’ 6 km, standing), Vladislav Lekomtsev (men’s 7.5 km, standing), and Mikhail Lysov (men’s 6 km, visually impaired).
Silver was taken by biathletes Svetlana Konovalova (ladies’ 6 km, sitting), Anna Milenina (ladies’ 6 km, standing), Yulia Budanova (ladies’ 6 km, visually impaired), and Nikolai Polukhin (men’s 7.5 km, visually impaired), and alpine skiers (women’s downhill, standing) and Alexei Bugayev (men’s downhill , standing).
Bronze medals were won by biathlete Azat Karachurin (men’s 7.5 km, standing) and alpine skier Alexander Frantseva (women’s downhill, visually impaired).
Putin asked the athletes if snow was not melting in such warm weather. “No, it doesn’t. The tracks are good,” they told him.
The president said “the tracks are difficult here. When I was watching alpine skiing, I wondered how they were doing it,” the president said.
The athletes, jokingly, suggested that he try it himself. “I do the alpine skiing. Alpine skiing for the lazy,” he replied, smilingly.
Putin wished the athletes success and congratulated the women athletes on International Women’s Day and the excellent start. “We expected our Paralympic team to start off well, of course, but you did it not just well but excellently,” Putin said.
“It’s simply a wonderful start. But it’s important to keep the pace. Sport is sport, and everything is possible in sport, but fans will now expect something extraordinary from you,” he added.
“What you are doing at the Paralympic Games has several vectors and dimensions: the development of sport in general and Paralympic movement in particular, physical culture, mass sport; this draws public attention to the problems of people with health restraints. But I want to say a big thank you to all of you,” the president said.
Earlier, Putin said he had tried to fire from a rifle used by athletes at the Paralympic Games but attributed his successful shot to good luck.
“I tried to shoot and hit the target at first try. Maybe it was just a coincidence,” the president told one of the Ukrainian fans at the Sochi Paralympics.
He said athletes shot by ear and one had to train for that.
The Ukrainian woman said it was “hard to compete” with Russian athletes, and Putin agreed that the Russian team had made a good start. “We try to create good conditions and have built many bases for Paralympians,” he said, adding that much more had yet to be done.
“You’ve got a good team too,” Putin said and wished Ukrainian athletes success at the Sochi Games.