Malle 2017: Sivak’s solo gold tops off big day for Ukraine

Ukraine takes five golds, including an emotional one from Ivan Sivak 21 Oct 2017
Male wheelchair dancer bows
Ukraine's Ivan Sivak won his first world title in the men's single class 2 at Malle 2017
ⒸPeter Testelmans/Muse Heart Photography

“I want to dedicate this, not only the medal, but each day of my life, each thing that I’ve done and am doing, I would like to dedicate it to her. She was the centre of my life."

Ukraine’s Ivan Sivak celebrated an emotional victory on Saturday (21 October), as his country claimed five golds on the first day of the 2017 World Para Dance Sport Championships in Malle, Belgium.

While it was not his first World title, Sivak’s gold medal in the men’s single class 2 was his first without wife Nadiia, who sadly passed away a year ago before the 2016 European Championships in Kosice, Slovakia. Together, they won four World and multiple European titles.

“First of all I am very confused because I have a lot of feelings inside, but at the moment I am very happy,” said Sivak, who was competing in men’s single at a World Championships for the first time.

“I want to dedicate this, not only the medal, but each day of my life, each thing that I’ve done and am doing, I would like to dedicate it to her. She was the centre of my life. And I am very happy that I have a daughter who is like her – they are like two drops of water, so they are very alike. Every day of my life I remember Nadiia.”

“For me it is important that this is like an evidence for the people who help me all the time,” he added.

Sivak won the judges’ top marks in the tango, rumba and jive, giving him one point better than Germany’s runner-up Erik Machens, who had also taken silver at the 2015 World Championships in Rome, Italy. Three points separated the bronze and fourth-place finishers, with Mexico’s Jesus Yermain Angeles Fernandez prevailing in the samba and jive to finish on the podium.

South Korea’s Changwoo Han was the clear winner in the men’s single class 1, adding the Worlds title to the Asian Championship title he won last year. Kazakhstan’s silver medallist Ardak Otorbayev bettered Hong Kong’s Ma Wah Keung with his tango, samba and jive.

“I spent time with my partner for three to four years, and in this period we have experienced sometimes arguing and also good times,” Han said. “I am very happy we got good results from the World Championships, it is like dreaming. I did not expect anything. I thought I would just like to enjoy this competition. It was my only goal.”

Ukraine continued their celebrations with a further two gold medals in single events.

Reigning world and European champion Illona Slugovyna continued her dominance in the women’s single class 1. South Korea’s Hye-Jeong Jang spoiled a one-two Ukrainian finish by taking the silver, as Snejana Kernichnaya completed the podium.

Although a familiar face on the podium, Ukraine’s Olena Chynka finally celebrated her first Worlds gold medal, being the standout performer in the women’s single class 2. Behind loud, supportive Mexican chants, Haydee Guadalupe Reynosa Guerrero certainly made noise in her World Championship debut – and only her second major international event – as she took home the silver medal. Poland’s Katarzyna Bloch claimed the bronze.

The afternoon was then lit up with combi Latin events.

After just missing the podium two years ago, the Philippines’ Rhea Marquez and Jun Julius Obero showed outstanding improvement. The couple were unquestionably the judges’ favourites across all five Latin dances to win the gold medal.

“After our final dance, our coach said ‘Just don’t expect,’” said Marquez, who hurt her shoulder during the semi-finals. “When we heard we were the world champions, we were so overwhelmed. We thought really? As in really?”

Ukraine’s Olena Dankevych and Ivan Zamiga won the silver by three points over Poland’s Nadine Kinczel and Pawel Karpinski.

Han partnered with Jini Ryu in the combi Latin 1 to finish Saturday with two gold medals. Belarus’ Hanna Siratsiuk and Ihar Kuliashou were second, followed by South Koreans Jang and Ikhee Lee.

Duo standard closed the evening, with Slugovyna teaming up with Valeriy Bevzyuk to win the class 1 event. Kazakhstan’s Karlygash Tynabekova and Ardak Otorbayev; and Ukraine’s Snejana Kernichnaya and Vladimir Kernichny took silver and bronze respectively.

Chynka partnered with Oleksandr Onishchenko to pile on Ukraine’s golden night in the class 2 equivalent. South Korea’s Jang and Youngho Lee were runner-up. Despite injuring her arm during one of her performances, Poland’s Joanna Reda fought through to take the bronze with partner Karpinski.

The Malle 2017 World Para Dance Sport Championships concludes on Sunday (22 October) with men and women’s single freestyle; combi standard; duo Latin; and combi freestyle events.

Competition will be streamed live at and www.ParalympicSport.TV.

Live updates will be posted to World Para Dance Sport’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, and @paradancesport.

Pictures will be available at