IPC Boss Craven Closes Curtain On Sochi Paralympics During Sunday's Closing Ceremony
Int'l Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven declared the Sochi Paralympics closed Sunday in a ceremony "celebrating the ambition and ability of disabled people," according to R-SPORT. The "uplifting and colorful ceremony" brought down the curtain on nine days of competition which featured 547 disabled athletes from 45 countries. The Paralympic flame "was extinguished on its tower in Sochi’s Olympic Park." The Paralympic flag was "passed to the organizers" of the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, who staged a "brief show featuring traditional dance and calligraphy." Craven: “Do you sense a greater degree of liberation whether here in Sochi, in wider Russia or throughout the world? Well I do, I can tell you. The Paralympic spirit has united and infected us all.” As at the Olympics a month before, Russia topped the final standings, winning a total of 80 Winter Paralympic medals, "more than any country in history" (R-SPORT, 3/16). In Sydney, Stathi Paxinos reported the Sochi Paralympics started "under the threat of war." But for a couple of hours, as Russian President Vladimir Putin watched on, the outside troubles "were drowned out by a spectacularly loud, colourful and lighthearted ceremony" that featured Jose Carreras and the return of the popular giant ice-cutter from the Opening Ceremony. The Games "did have its issues, most notably the conditions for the alpine skiers" at Rosa Khutor in the western Caucasus mountains, which "caused a succession of crashes and led to several emergency medical helicopter flights to hospital" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/17). In London, Gareth A. Davies reported British Winter Paralympians can be “optimistic” of increased funding after a haul of six medals in Sochi. Five Alpine skiing medals and a Bronze medal for the wheelchair curlers "capped Britain’s most successful Games," surpassing the four Silver and five Bronze medals at Innsbruck in '84. Funding for the next four years "will be decided in July," although the current round runs until September, with £750,000 ($1.2M) having been provided for the Alpine skiing and curling teams (TELEGRAPH, 3/16).