Four different winter athletes have been announced as finalists in the Best Paralympic Games Debut Category for the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, proudly partnered by the IPC’s International Partner Allianz.
The award will be presented by the IPC to the athlete that stood out the most in his or her first-ever Paralympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.
Finalists for the award include:
• Oleksandra Kononova: At the young age of 19, the Ukrainian winter athlete put on a stellar performance at Vancouver 2010, winning gold in the 12.5km Standing Biathlon and golds in the 5km and Sprint Classic Cross-Country Skiing events. She also picked up a silver in the 3x2.5km Cross-Country Skiing race. Kononova, whose right hand was infected with osteomyelitis as an infant, now has a right hand that is shorter than her left one.
• Maria Iovleva: After competing in winter sports since the age of 9, Iovleva won gold in the 10km Biathlon and silver in the 2.4km Pursuit, in addition to being a member of the gold-medal winning women’s Cross-Country Relay team. She will now look to build off that performance in her home Games at Sochi 2014.
• Nikko Landeros: In 2007, the American lost his legs after he was struck by another car while changing a flat tire. In 2010, in Vancouver, he made a name for himself as a punishing defenseman on the USA’s gold-medal winning Ice Sledge Hockey team. Landeros is already one of the sport’s fiercest competitors after playing the sport for just two years, and he should be one of the game’s best for years to come.
• Zebastian Modin: At just 15 years old, the Swedish visually impaired athlete was the youngest competitor from any nation to compete at Vancouver 2010. He won bronze in the Cross-Country Skiing Sprint Classic Style, though he claims he is motivated by his enjoyment of the sport rather than a drive to win medals a major events.
The award winner will be announced during a special ceremony held in conjunction with the 2011 IPC General Assembly in Beijing, China, in December.