When was the expression "Paralympic" first used?  What is its origin?  Who is Ukraine's most successful Paralympic athlete?  If you know the answers to these and 17 other questions you could have been a winner in our online quiz, "What do you know about the Paralympics?" which was posted on the web-site of the British Embassy in Kyiv between 5 March and 18 April.

This week we hold a reception at the residence to award prizes to those who got the right answers (20 people in all, of whom 12 were able to attend, from all over Ukraine).  We're honoured to welcome for the occasion Valerii Sushkevych, President of the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee, and Olena Yurkovska, Ukraine's most successful Paralympic athlete (four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin).  In a short speech, I note that the concept of competitive sporting events for people with disabilities originated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948; the preparations now taking place in London for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and the importance of promoting diversity and tolerance and challenging stereotypes about disability.  Valerii Sushkevych and Olena Yurkovska welcome the event and speak powerfully about the benefits of the Paralympic movement.  We then distribute the prizes, and have an informal chat with the winners over a cup of tea.

It's good to be able to draw attention to such a sporting success story (Ukraine came 5th in the 2010 Paralympics with five golds and nineteen medals in all) and what it can tell us about diversity and tolerance.  The UK is keen to share experience with Ukraine and vice-versa, and the embassy has been running a project called "Everyone has the right to work" to help improve employment opportunities for young people with disabilities in Luhansk and Lviv.  At the end of the event I'm pleased to have a chance to talk to elite athlete Olena Yurkovska; and to discuss with Valerii Suchkevych how the embassy can work with him and his committee in future.  Maybe another quiz in 2011 as the 2012 Paralympic Games draw nearer?  We'll see.   

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

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