This article is from the archive of our partner .

After the first day of the Paralympics, Russia has a commanding lead in the medal count, but Ukraine -- which only decided on Friday to even attend the event at all -- is in second place. It won its first gold in the games today in the 7.5 km visually impaired biathlon.

Ukraine's participation in the games was questionable. The country decided just yesterday to attend at all, warning that it would pull its athletes out if the conflict between the two countries should escalate. Only one athlete, the flag bearer, participated in the opening ceremonies.

Ukraine's first medalist of the games was Olena Iurkovska, who won a bronze in the women's 6km sitting biathlon. Though athletes are discouraged from making political statements at the Olympics, she made sure to pointedly dedicate her medal to her country's independence.

"I devote my first medal in Sochi to an independent Ukraine," Iurkovska said, per the AP. "Every time I race, it will be for Ukrainian independence and peace in my country." 

Later that day, Ukraine won its first gold of the games in the men's 7.5km visually impaired biathlon. Mirroring the results of the women's biathlon 4x6km relay in last month's Olympic Games, Vitaliy Lukyanenko beat Russia's Nikolay Polukhin, who was favored to win the event.  

After 12 events, Ukraine has one gold, one silver and three bronzes in the games. Russia has 12 medals, and the United States has just three: one silver and two bronze, all in alpine skiing.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to