Team Italy voted IPC’s Athlete of the Month for February04.03.2011
Team Italy has been voted by the public as the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) ‘Athlete of the Month’ for February 2011.
At the 2011 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey European Championship in Solleftea, Sweden, Team Italy caused two major upsets to become the new European Champions.
Tipped by a minority as outsiders, and at best a medal hope before the Championships, the Italians finished second in group B and produced a huge shock by defeating hot favourites Norway 2:1 in the semi-finals.
Against Norway, who had scored 44 goals and conceded just three in winning their group, the Italians fell a goal behind but fought back with goals from Florian Planks and Andrea Chiarotti to secure a famous victory.
In the final Italy played the Czech Republic who had beaten them 3:0 in the Group stages. Gregory Leperdi opened the scoring and then Florian Planks’ goal secured a 2:0 European title victory. It is an amazing feat considering the country only started playing the sport in time for the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.
Team Italy were voted February’s IPC ‘Athlete of the Month’ following a poll on the IPC’s official Facebook page www.facebook.com/paralympic.tv.
Along with Team Italy four other athletes were shortlisted for the IPC ‘Athlete of the Month’. Three had competed in the IPC Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing World Cup Finals in Finsterau, Germany and the other the 2011 Paralympic Winter World Cup in Solleftea, Sweden.
• Irek Zaripov (Russia) - Won three out of four Men’s Sitting races - the Cross-Country Skiing Pursuit, the 15km race and the Biathlon Pursuit - at the recent World Cup Finals event in Germany. Winning these races secured him the overall World Cup rankings in both Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing.
• Mikhalina Lysova (Russia) – In the Women’s visually impaired category at the World Cup Finals in Germany, Lysova (Guide Alexey Ivanov) won both Biathlon races and the Cross-Country Skiing pursuit. She topped the Biathlon World Cup rankings with a perfect score of 700 points.
• Ivan Frantsev (Russia)- At the Paralympic Winter World Cup in Sweden Franstev won three gold medals in the visually impaired category – two in Giant Slalom and one in Slalom.