Germany’s Leonie Maria Walter stormed to her first Paralympic biathlon gold at Beijing 2022 on Tuesday (8 March) as Canada, Italy, China and Czech Republic advanced to knock-out rounds in Para Ice Hockey.
In Wheelchair Curling, Sweden currently sit top of the table with only one loss from six games followed by defending champions China, Canada, Slovakia, Latvia and Norway. Curlers will play the penultimate day of round-robin matches on Wednesday.
And Canada, China, Italy, Czech Republic and South Korea made it through to the knock-out stages in Para Ice Hockey.
Walter halts Shyshkova in Para Biathlon
Heading into the women’s middle distance vision impaired, Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova was the woman to beat as the defending Paralympic champion. Shyshkova, guided by Andriy Marchenko, had also won the sprint gold on Saturday.
It seemed however that no one had told Germany’s Walter as she ate-up the 10km course and hit all targets on the shooting range with guide Pirmin Strecker.
Sitting second with just 1km left, Shyshkova tried to make a comeback after dropping two shots.
In response Walter simply said she “knew she was coming and that I must run."
"I am so happy about this medal,” Walter began. "It is really a cool moment. Now I will go and get the gold medal in my hand. I can only be happy to have reached my big goal and now we will continue on this."
Walter put in an excellent performance to win her first Paralympic gold. Ⓒ OIS Photos/Simon Bruty
Shyshkova retains her incredible record of finishing on the podium in all Para Biathlon and Para Cross-Country events so far, also winning gold in the long distance cross-country.
China’s Wang Yue took the bronze with guide Li Yalin.
Ukraine achieved two podium sweeps elsewhere on Tuesday.
Iryna Bui came to Beijing 2022 having finished seventh at Sochi 2014 and an agonising fourth at PyeongChang 2018, but finally grabbed her first Paralympic title in the women’s standing.
Oleksandra Kononova was second followed by Liudmyla Liashenko who repeated her performance from four years ago.
In the men’s vision impaired Vitalii Lukianenko and guide Borys Babar led his teammates onto the podium for the second time with a perfect record on the range.
Anatolii Kovalevskyi, guided by Oleksandr Mukshyn, missed just one target to secure silver. Dmytro Suiarko was a little less accurate with his shooting but only by one shot, meaning he took the bronze with guide Oleksandr Nikonovych.
The USA’s Kendell Gretsch added to her world title from January in the women’s sitting. Gretsch overcame her compatriot Oksana Masters, the winner from the sprint earlier in the competition.
This time it was Masters who took the silver having cleared the range as Gretsch upgraded her sprint bronze, despite dropping two shots.
"I haven't really been feeling that confident the past couple of races so I didn't really know what to expect today, but I felt really good all the way through,” Gretsch said. "The altitude here and the dry air really gets you, so I'm proud I was able to stay strong throughout the whole race."
Germany’s Anja Wicker, the winner from Sochi 2014, grabbed bronze.
Liu Mengtao joined the group of skiers who won their second medals on Tuesday.
Competing in the men’s sitting the Chinese athlete led the field home for his country’s third biathlon gold overall. That was despite dropping three shots.
“My skiing was fine today, but the shots, not that good. I tried my best, so I am satisfied. I want the Chinese flag to rise to the highest tip. That’s where I got the motivation.”
Martin Fleig of Germany, the long distance champion, took silver ahead of Ukraine’s Taras Rad.
Canada’s Mark Arendz improved on his bronze medal from the last two editions by claiming the gold in the men’s standing with perfect shooting.
"In lap four I was starting to wonder if I had anything left, but once I saw the guy who was with me almost the whole lap, Grygorii [Vovchynskyi], go into the penalty loop, I knew that I had to now take the opportunity to go for that win.
"I wasn't quite sure if I could out-ski him in that last loop if we were coming out together, but my focus was on the range. It always had to be clean on the range for me today, and then use the rest of the energy I had to go and ski a really good race."
Mark Arendz is competing at his fourth Paralympics. Ⓒ OIS Photos/Thomas Lovelock
Ukraine’s Grygorii Vovchynskyi was second followed by Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Gerlits, who won Kazakhstan’s third ever Paralympic Winter Games medal with bronze.
Canada, Czech Republic, China, Italy, head through to next stage in Para Ice Hockey
PyeongChang 2018 silver medallists Canada will join the USA in the semi-finals of Para Ice Hockey after a 6-0 rout over South Korea in the final Group A game.
James Dunn was Canada’s top scorer with half of his team’s goals, securing second place in the pool and a direct route to the next round.
"It's good to get the win. We didn't have a great first game here, of course. It's important to bounce back: a rubber Band-Aid, so to speak," Canada's Greg Westlake said, referring to Canada's loss against the USA earlier in the competition. "We just had to get out there, get a few goals, get some lines going, get everybody into the game, just feel good about ourselves. It's just as much mental as it is physical when you get to these little, short tournaments and you want to be on the up the whole way.
"I think today we took step one, really just feeling good about ourselves."
Canada got a much-needed confidence boost on Tuesday. Ⓒ OIS Photos/Joel Marklund
Italy had a nervous wait to find out if they were heading through to the qualification finals after losing 6-0 to China on Tuesday.
The two other teams in Group B – Czech Republic and Slovakia – both needed to win when they faced-off in the final game of the day. Slovakia were sitting last heading into the tie with only one point whilst the Czech Republic were second on three points.
With two points to their name, Italy needed Slovakia to lose.
Fortunately for the Italians, they got what they needed. A trio of goals – one each – for Michael Geier, Pavel Kubes and Zdenek Krupicka sealed Slovakia’s fate and kept the Czech Republic’s campaign alive.
South Korea will now face Italy on Wednesday for a place in the semi-finals whilst Czech Republic will take on China.
The USA and Canada advance straight to Thursday’s semi-finals as the top two finishers from Group A.
Sweden top Wheelchair Curling standings after day four
With the Wheelchair Curling round-robin passing the halfway point on Tuesday, the focus was on the leaderboard with two days of preliminary play remaining.
Sweden moved to the top of the standings at the end of day four with five wins and only one loss. They beat Estonia and Great Britain 6-4 on Tuesday.
Having only dropped one game, Sweden are on a roll. Ⓒ Getty Images
Slovakia propelled themselves to joint second, alongside defending champions China, after an impressive 9-8 win over three-time gold medallists Canada.
The Canadians share fourth place with Latvia and PyeongChang 2018 silver medallists Norway. All three teams have four wins and three losses.