“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."
It was uncertain whether Ukraine’s Ivan Sivak would continue competing after his dance partner and wife Nadiia sadly passed away on October 2016.
But a year after that unfortunate day, Sivak did return and gave an emotional solo performance to capture gold at the 2017 World Championships and dedicated his victory to his wife. His emotional performance marks No. 40 on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.
Together, Nadiia and Ivan Sivak were dominant in the duo events, winning multiple world and European medals, including five world titles.
So it was a rare scene when Sivak took the dance floor alone at the Malle 2017 World Para Dance Sport Championships in Belgium.
For the first time, he was entered in an individual event at a major event.
Despite his medal collection, Sivak’s gold in the men’s single class 2 was his first major title dancing solo.
“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.”
The two met in 2006 in Rivno, Ukraine. He was working as an instructor, teaching people how to manage in a wheelchair. Not long after they first met, he made a ring from tomato ketchup packets and out it around her finger, telling her: "Now I know what size you are."
He began training in Para dance sport in 2007, and they competed in their first World Para Dance Sport event in 2011.
Sivak’s wife passed away just before the 2016 European Championships in Kosice, Slovakia, where they were the favourites to defend their titles in the duo standard and duo Latin 2 events. Following the sudden news, he did not compete in Kosice.
This past April, he showed up to the Cuijk 2017 Para Dance Sport international competition in the Netherlands, taking many by surprise. He only entered for the men’s single class 2, where he won ahead of four other participants. Despite a small competition field, Sivak showed his intent and potential to reach the podium at Malle 2017.
In October, he covered the dancefloor with grace, elegance and a heart-felt choreography that captured not only the judges’ hearts, but audience as well to win the gold medal.
Sivak also entered in the men’s single freestyle event in Malle – giving another artistic performance that landed him the Worlds bronze.
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.