PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games kick off

Ruben Hill
March 13, 2018

Winter Paralympics have been held since 1976.

Slovakian skier Henrieta Farkasova won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Paralympics Saturday and the U.S. clinched a hat-trick of victories as sporting action got under away at Games marked by a rapid inter-Korean thaw.

North Korea, who are participating in their first Winter Paralympics, wanted to use a version of the Korean peninsula flag that includes islands disputed with Japan.

A record 567 disabled athletes, representing 48 countries and regions, as well as the Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation, will compete in South Korea over a 10-day span. Medals will be up for grabs in 80 events in six sports. The event will begin from 9 March and will end on 18 March.

Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said that despite this latest hiccup, the countries have pushed diplomacy forward.

The athletics lineup includes alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding and wheelchair curling.

Among them are 30 neutral competitors from Russian Federation, which remains suspended by the IPC over a mass doping scandal.

The first Paralympic Winter Games came more than 16 years later, when Örnsköldsvik, Sweden hosted winter competitions for the athletes.

In what was his Paralympic debut, Patmore ran 22.36, a time which put him just over three-tenths of a second behind the gold medallist, Brazilian Yohansson Nascimento.

American snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, who lost her right leg below the knee, made headlines when she featured in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. Ma Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon, the first two North Koreans to compete in the Winter Paralympics, were the bottom two finishers as they ended 26th and 27th, respectively.

There was a silver lining, though, in the unity among the two torchbearers - one North Korean and one South Korean.

Unlike at last month's Olympics, where North and South Korean athletes walked under one united flag, the two countries could not strike a similar arrangement for the Paralympics opening ceremony.

Despite the historic announcement Thursday that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plan to meet and discuss nuclear weapons, not everything is always rosy in North Korea's new détente with the outside world.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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