After the 25th Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ended, 29 Slovak athletes could rest and enjoy the glory as they bring home altogether five gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Rio became officially the second most successful Paralympic Games for Slovakia since its autonomy, whereas the country earned one bronze medal more than in Rio only in Athens 2004, however, up to 37 athletes competed then, the SITA newswire reported.
Slovak disabled athletes won medals in Rio in several disciplines. The most successful competitors, rifle shooter Veronika Vadovičová and cyclist Jozef Metelka, both won two gold and one silver medal, while bronze medals went to club thrower Marián Kuřeja, cyclist Patrik Kuril and archer Peter Kinik.
Moreover, another gold medal went to the boccia team composed of Samuel Andrejčík, Michaela Balcová and Róbert Ďurkovič which defeated Brazil in the finals. Andrejčík also won silver in the individual competition.
After the games, Ján Riapoš, chair of the Slovak Paralympic Committee and one of the best Slovak disabled athletes in history, congratulated the entire team and also the atmosphere during the competitions. He praised mainly Vadovičová's and Metelka's results and Kuřeja’s bronze, but also the medal won in boccia.
“Eleven medals, of which five are gold, is an incredible result for such a small country like Slovakia,” said Riapoš, as quoted by SITA. “I firmly believe that the message of these medals will be stronger when we get home.”
Though Rio, like the previous summer or winter Paralympics, offered performances of many phenomenal Slovak disabled athletes, Riapoš feels a dropout among summer sports of blind and partially sighted athletes. Only two of them, Vladislav Janovjak and Karin Petrikovičová, attended in Rio.
“Otherwise it is in winter sports where, especially in skiing, dominate blind and partially sighted,” Riapoš said.
However, Riapoš explained that the education of visually disadvantaged young athletes is very difficult as to make them professional requires a high quality guide, SITA reported.