Sir Philip hails Sochi 2014 as `spectacular showcase of sport’

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With one and half days to go of Sochi 2014, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has hailed the Paralympic Winter Games as a `spectacular showcase of sport’ and picked out his favourite moments from the Games so far. … 

So far 61 medal events have taken place in Sochi, with a further 11 to follow, including Saturday’s finals in wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey which both feature hosts Russia as gold medal contenders.

Sir Philip Craven said: “The Games have been absolutely mind blowing in terms of their impact, far beyond what the Paralympic Movement expected when coming here. They have been a spectacular showcase of sport and the power of the human spirit.

“Not only have the athletic performances been first class, but so has the organisation which has been seamless.

“To sell 316,200 tickets, 86,200 more than Vancouver 2010, not only shows what a great job the Organising Committee has done, but also shows the significant growth in popularity of the Paralympic Movement.

“As London did in 2012 raising the bar higher for Rio 2016, Sochi 2014 really has raised the bar for PyeongChang 2018.

“Rounding off these spectacular Games will be Sunday’s Closing Ceremony which will be an opportunity for the Paralympic Movement to say thank you to everyone involved in making these Games a terrific success.

“The plans sound absolutely fantastic and will be a fitting finale, not just for the Paralympics, but for seven years of tremendous work by the Organising Committee.

President’s highlights

Ahead of the Saturday’s team finals and the last day of competition, Sir Philip has picked out his highlights of the Games so far.

Alpine skiing

“The easy answer for me as a proud Brit would be to choose Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans winning Great Britain’s first ever alpine skiing gold in Monday’s super-G.

“However, I’m not sure anything can beat seeing the emotion and sheer delight of the USA’s Stephanie Jallen when she picked up bronze in the women’s super-G standing. The 18-year-old leapt onto the podium, threw down her crutch and brought a tear to the eye of everybody in the crowd. It was an amazing and humbling moment.”

Biathlon

“Roman Petushkov’s gold on the first day of competition in the 7.5km sitting event set him on his way to a record-breaking Games. He’s unbeaten so far and he firmly established himself as a national hero winning six golds from six events. He is a quite remarkable athlete and should he win a seventh gold on Sunday they he will rewrite all the history books.”

Cross-country skiing

“It’s difficult to choose one, so I’m going to have two from the 1km sprint.

“Brian McKeever’s recovery after a fall in the first 100m was not just a great moment of these Games but of Paralympic history. He showed immense determination and willpower to pick himself up, battle through the field and win his second gold of the Games and eleventh medal in Paralympic history.

“Germany’s Andrea Eskau should also be hailed as beacon of fair play for effectively disqualifying herself in the sitting sprint. She finished in bronze medal position, however was unhappy that her own arm hindered her rivals and so gave up her position.”

Ice sledge hockey

“All of Russia’s games qualify as great moments due to the unbelievable atmosphere created by the home support in the Shayba. It’s hard to believe that the team only started five years ago and to reach the final on home ice is spectacular. The best moment though I suspect will be Saturday’s final against the USA which I am delighted will be shown live on NBC in the U.S. I think the Russians will lift the roof off the arena should they win!”

Wheelchair curling

“On Thursday (13 March), Great Britain and USA were both fighting for a semi-final place. Going into the seventh end, Britain trailed 6-2 and looked totally out of it. However, the Brits scored a five to take the lead, before the US tied in the final nail-biting end.  Going into the extra end, the pressure was at boiling point, and the Brits were victorious 8-7. Sensational sport.”