As the curtain came down on the 2018 World Para Dance Sport European Championships, let us look back at some takeaways from the competition in Lomianki, Poland:
Simply the best
Look at the medals standing, and there is no question who the strongest dancers are in Europe.
Ukraine had a successful Championships, with their dancers winning 13 of the 19 events, taking 20 medals overall.
Olena Chynka’s ability to dance beautifully and win five events over three days was the highlight for the Ukrainains. That includes performing through heats and changing costumes in between.
If she wins best all-around dancer, her compatriot Oleksandr Onishchenko should also receive best dance partner. Together with Chynka, they won three duo events (in which both dancers are in wheelchairs). Onishchenko then joined standing partner Svitlana Onopa for an entertaining freestyle performance in the combi 2 category to take the gold.
One can get lost watching Hanna Harchakova and standing partner Roman Usmanov move gracefully across the floor. The two are so perfectly in sync that they are like one, and it was no surprise they won a consecutive combi standard 2 gold.
Their fellow Belarusians Veranika Kasach and Aliaksei Zukhtsikau mimicked similar results in the class 1 equivalent.
Usmanov said Belarus’ success in standard perhaps represents their personality in staying calm and relaxed in various situations.
Helena Kasicka is back
After a one-year hiatus from the World Para Dance Sport scene, Slovakia’s Helena Kasicka returned to the competitive floor. The multi-world and European champion reached a compromise with her then-dance partner now coach Peter Vidasic to return to dancing, but only in singles freestyle. The class 1 athlete earned her first singles gold medal in a major Championships. Although satisfied, Vidasic said there is much to improve ahead of the 2019 World Championships.
New talents alert
Exciting newcomers came away with medals in their first full season in the sport.
Tomer Margalit, 23, landed double silver in the women’s singles freestyle and standard 1. With time and more training, the Israeli’s energy and raw talent has potential to develop into gold.
The host nation also introduced promising talent in 20-year-old Julia Sadkowska. The swimmer-turned-dancer bronze medallist also put on a routine that challenged Margalit’s in the standard.
Show of sportsmanship
Competitors at the Euros may have gone head to head on the dance floor but described the atmosphere as more like a family party. Nowhere was that illustrated more than when the Belarusian team loaned a chair to Ukraine’s Nataliia Bespalova. The music had to stop during the combi standard 2 after her wheel broke off. After she returned to the floor and completed the final, Belarus gifted her the chair.
The Para dance world welcomed Turkey into the growing family. The nation made their first appearance at a European Championships with two male athletes in the class 1 category. Abdul Kadir Unal danced to gold in the singles freestyle and silver in standard. He left with medals and confidence.