Ukraine has come third in the Rio 2016 Paralympics medal table, coming in ahead of the United States and Australia with 117 medals (41 of which were gold) and beaten only by China and Great Britain.
Ukraine, while producing its worst ever result at the Olympics this year, has been rising up the ranks at the Paralympics over recent years — coming sixth in Athens in 2004, and fourth at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
According to a recent BBC report, Ukraine’s success can largely be credited to a programme called Invasport, developed by Ukraine’s Paralympic chief, Valeriy Sushkevych. Within the framework of Invasport, facilities dedicated to Paralympic sports have been opened in every Ukrainian region.
Gold medal-winning powerlifter Lidiya Solovyova also cited challenges facing Ukrainians with disabilities as a key factor — her motivation to succeed in sport is the fact that Ukraine lacks opportunities for people with disabilities outside of this sphere.
“This is my main job,” she explains. “In our country it is very difficult to find a job for people with disability… Paralympic sport is my main income. I live off it.”
Which other New East countries wowed at the Rio Paralympics?
Poland came in at number four on the medals table, while Uzbekistan and Belarus made it into the top 20, with Slovakia and Serbia also winning places in the top 40.