Ivan Sivak won World gold, for the first time without his wife.
It was uncertain whether Ivan Sivak would continue competing after his dance partner and wife Nadiia sadly passed away last October.
But he did return to the big stage, and a year after that unfortunate day, Ivan Sivak captured World Championship gold, dedicating it to his wife. His emotional performance marks No. 40 on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.
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, the Ukrainian was dancing without his wife at a World Championships. Together, the pair were dominant together, winning multiple world and European medals in duo events, including five world titles.
Amid 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.
It took many by surprise this past April when he showed up to the Cuijk 2017 Para Dance Sport international competition in the Netherlands. He only entered for the men’s single class 2, where he did win ahead of four other participants.
But he would face even tougher competition in Malle.
His grace and heart-felt choreography captured not only the judges’ hearts, but audience as well, as we went on to win the gold medal. Sivak further left an impressive performance in the men’s single freestyle class 2, leaving with the bronze and hopes of seeing more to come.
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.