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SOCHI, March 15, 17:09 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian biathlete Olena Iurkovska, a medalist of four Paralympic Games, said the ongoing Winter Paralympics in Russia’s Sochi gave a new boost to the Paralympic movement.
At the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, held between March 7 and 16 in Russia’s resort city of Sochi, wheelchair-bound Iurkovska had already grabbed one silver and two bronze medals.
“The Paralympic Games in Sochi are very full,” the female Ukrainian ski racer told an Itar-Tass correspondent. “We [Ukrainian team] both felt sad from defeats and jubilated our victories.”
“The organization of the current Games is at the highest level possible and it makes me happy about it,” she said.
“I took part in the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games in the United States’ Salt Lake City and not all people there knew about the Paralympics at that time,” she said.
“The Games in Sochi gave answers to many questions and as a result the Paralympic movement assumed a very new and distinctive shape. We [athletes] are now being recognized in public, we have our fans and it makes me happy about it,” Iurkovska said.
The 30-year-old Ukrainian athlete debuted at the 2002 Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City and then performed in the following Games in Italy’s Turin in 2006, Canada’s Vancouver in 2010 and in Russia’s Sochi this year.
She grabbed a total of three bronze medals in Salt Lake City, two gold, one silver and one bronze in Italy’s Turin and two silver and one bronze at the Games in Vancouver.
At the Games in Russia’s Sochi, Iurkovska won bronze both in Biathlon Women’s 12.5 km, Sitting, and in Women’s 6 km, Sitting. She also raced to the silver medal in Women’s Cross-Country Skiing 4x2.5 km Open Relay.
At the age of 13 Iurkovska took up sitting volleyball. But she took up para-skiing and biathlon at age 16 in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev after she had been in the mountains for the first time and loved it.
Iurkovska’s sports hero is Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen and her sporting and life philosophy is "Never stop striving to achieve your goals."
Her husband Sergiy Khyzhnyak also competed in para-Nordic skiing and participated in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.