The 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang finished with a thrilling final day of events. The Games once again revealed the incredible hurdles many athletes have overcome to not just compete but also live.
The 12th Winter Paralympics came to an end on Sunday after the United States beat Canada with a dramatic overtime goal to win sledge hockey gold in Pyeongchang. It was a fitting finale to nine days of high-octane sporting action at the Winter Paralympics.
In the fast and furious sport, athletes with leg impairments are strapped into sledges and use two sticks to move around the ice rink. Canada were heading for gold but with just 37 seconds left on the clock, the US scored to send the match into overtime where they completed the comeback to take gold.
Medals were also awarded in several categories of alpine skiing on the final day, with the United Kingdom, France and Germany winning gold.
Pyeongchang, which also hosted last month's Winter Olympics, had welcomed 567 disabled athletes to the Games to compete in 80 medal events.
The US topped the medals standings with 13 golds, 15 silvers and eight bronze medals. The Neutral Paralympic Athletes, Russians deemed clean, finished second with eight golds. Canada finished third. France and Germany won seven golds each.
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons paid tribute to late British physicist Stephen Hawking during the closing ceremony. "While Hawking tested the limits of his imagination, Paralympians, you have once again pushed the boundaries of human endeavour," Parsons told the audience.
The Paralympics in Pyeongchang broke records with ticket sales topping 340,000 and saw more activity on social media than London 2012 and Sochi 2014 combined. Above all though stood the many tales of disabled athletes fighting against the odds for sporting glory.
Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee won two gold medals despite having had cancer surgery twice in recent months. American skier Oksana Masters – born with multiple birth defects due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – also won double gold.
The best individual performances came from Slovakia's Henrieta Farkasova and France's Marie Bochet with four golds in alpine skiing. Four countries - China, Croatia, Kazakhstan and hosts South Korea – all won their first Winter Games gold medals.
In the $80-million (€65 million) Olympic Stadium that will now be demolished having only been built for the opening and closing ceremonies at both Games, a spectacular closing ceremony that featured dancing, music and light shows was on show.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the Paralympic flag was handed over to the mayor of Beijing – which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
jh/ (dpa, AFP)