Beijing 2022: Takeaways from Para BiathlonChina join nation's ‘hard to beat’ list 08 Apr 2022
Para Biathlon at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games offered a steady stream of new faces taking to the podium alongside those already known.
But what are the key takeaways from the sport characterised by speed, accuracy and endurance?
Ukraine are still tough to beat
The team that struggled just to get to the start line at Beijing 2022 showed their incredible resilience with their best ever overall performance at Paralympic Winter Games.
Eight of their 22 Para Biathlon medals were gold and the sport is now the leading stage where Ukraine have collected the majority of their podiums.
In addition, despite having 472 gold, silver and bronze medals from eight editions of the Summer Paralympics, their second-most decorated athlete is a winter Paralympian who competed at Beijing 2022.
Vitalii Lukianenko took two titles in a row in the sprint and middle, only dropping down to second in the men’s Individual vision impaired with guide Borys Babar. He now has eight gold, four silver and four bronze to his name from six Paralympics.
Oksana Syshkova equalled Lukianenko’s performance in Beijing with guide Andriy Marchenko to put their pair at the top of the individual standings.
China are the new country to watch
With their very first Paralympic biathlon medals won, Chinese skiers made their mark on the tracks of Beijing 2022.
And we are not talking about only one or two medals – as big as that achievement would have been for the hosts.
China took twelve medals in total – four golds, two silver and six bronze – to finish second on the sport’s medal table.
Liu Mentao topped the standings with two golds from the men’s sitting whilst Liu Zixu was one of his main rivals with a title of his own. Guo Yujie won the women’s sprint standing to show that China can make an impact in both genders and across classifications. Indeed they left with at least two medals from the men’s and women’s sitting, standing and vision impaired.
Masters and Gretsch are a winning combination
There are not many people who could compete at two Paralympic Games in the space of six months.
There are even fewer who could do it and win medals.
But that is exactly what US teammates Oksana Masters and Kendell Gretsch did in the women’s sitting at Beijing 2022.
Masters had been working on her shooting since PyeongChang 2018 and boy did she impress. Only dropping one shot across the entire event on the range, the 32-year-old reached the top of the podium in the sprint and Individual.
And then there is Gretsch who was the only other woman to successfully challenge Masters’s dominance, winning the middle distance and finishing in the top three in all other races.
Both athletes left Beijing with a clutch of medals that join Gretsch’s gold from Para Triathlon at Tokyo 2020 and Masters’s win in Para Cycling. Incredible.