President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
It is a great honour and pleasure to personally congratulate you, winners of the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, and to present you with high decorations of our Fatherland.
You have earned them with your outstanding sporting achievements, which, of course, glorify our country; with your perseverance, hard work and valour, which serve as an example to millions of people.
Our team has embodied the main mission of the Paralympians: to hone sporting skills, inspire and fascinate the world.
Your performances almost literally, in the full sense of the word, charge people with their indomitable energy, motivate people to think about true values, and have a unique inspirational power. And your victories attest to your impeccable training for the most important competitions.
The Russian swimming team has demonstrated excellent results, including one of the world’s renowned leaders, Andrei Kalina. His bright Paralympic victories began back in 2004, in Athens, where he was on the Ukrainian team. In fact, he is a six-time Paralympic champion.
Our first-timers in swimming, Valeria Shabalina and Roman Zhdanov, gave beautiful and powerful performances. At their first Paralympics, they won an entire range of medals of various calibres, rose to the top thrice and set new world records.
Bogdan Mozgovoi and Andrei Nikolayev also have set world records and won two gold medals in swimming. They showed their skills both in the individual competition and in the relay race as part of the team.
Our athletes have also distinguished themselves. Runner Dmitry Safronov has given an outstanding performance: two events and two world records. Of course, only super-talented people are capable of this.
Denis Gnezdilov has also had a strong-willed and spectacular victory, a real triumph of fortitude. The Russian athlete achieved the seemingly impossible, snatching the victory in the shot put event: he set a new world record twice in six attempts.
For the first time in the history of the Paralympics, Russian fencers won medals, and did this very beautifully. Leader of the Russian team Alexander Kuzyukov won gold medals both in the men’s epee tournament and in the individual competition. In the uncompromising battles of will he defeated three famous champions.
Master of table tennis Yelena Prokofyeva and our mixed team of archers, Margarita Sidorenko and Kirill Smirnov, also have won Paralympic gold medals.
And, of course, I would like to note cycling. There were no rivals to Ruslan Kuznetsov in the men’s cycling road race event and to Mikhail Astashov in the men's road race time trial event and the individual pursuit.
Fans paid special attention to Mikhail. His road to the coveted top as well as his success are unique, like this ambitious and very strong-willed athlete. His two victories and two records set in Tokyo are brilliant and fascinating.
We can talk a lot about each of you. Your life paths are worthy of films and books.
I would like to once again thank you for your perseverance and the winning attitude that you have in life, as well as for your example that inspires people in difficult life situations, for knowing how to take a blow and believe in yourself.
Without exaggeration, your achievements and skills can be called a triumph of human spirit.
Let me wish you success, sporting luck, energy and, of course, brilliant victories in the future.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, once again, congratulations on your well-deserved decorations.
Many of the speakers today thanked the government and authorities. I must say that, although it is nice to hear these words of gratitude, creating conditions for you is actually our responsibility.
But for you, training and achieving excellent results is not a responsibility but your attitude, your mindset, talent, hard work and your will to win. These qualities are all yours.
When I was presenting a decoration to one of you, he said, all of a sudden: “Congratulations.” Then he added with embarrassment: “Oh, sorry about that.”
You know, there is nothing to feel sorry about. I accept these congratulations because your victories are a celebration for all of us, for me and for the entire country. Thank you so much for this celebration.