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N. Koreans officially make Winter Paralympics debut

IANS  |  PyeongChang (South Korea) 

North Korean para athletes have officially made their Winter Paralympics debut here as two sit skiers competed in the men's cross-country skiing event on Sunday.

and competed in the men's 15-km sitting cross-country skiing event at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics at in PyeongChang, some 180 kms east of Seoul, reports news agency.

The two North Koreans were the bottom two finishers among the 27 competitors who completed the race. Ma took 26th with a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 57.3 seconds, while Kim finished last at 1:12.49.9. Kim's time was more than 30 minutes longer than of who clocked 41:37.0.

Kim and Ma became the first two North Koreans to compete at the Winter Paralympics. Until PyeongChang 2018, had only appeared at two Summer Paralympics: 2012 and 2016.

The two were able to participate in the 12th Winter Paralympics after the International Committee (IPC) gave a special invitation to

sent a 24-member delegation, with six athletes, to PyeongChang, but excluding Kim and Ma, four others came here as observers.

At the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, North Korean athletes were joined by a cheering squad from their country. Although did not send cheerleaders to the Winter Paralympics, they were still welcomed by South Korean spectators, who waved the Korean Unification Flag -- a blue against a white background.

After finishing their race, Kim and Ma were seen waving to the spectators in the stand. They, however, didn't answer reporters' questions in the mixed zone on how they feel about their Winter Paralympics experience.

The two para cross-country skiers will compete in one more event -- the men's 1.1 km sprint sitting -- at the same venue on Wednesday before they return to the next day.

Kim, 17, is a student at in Pyongyang and was the flagbearer of at the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Paralympics.

Ma, 27, visited as he competed in table tennis at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon. At the opening ceremony on Friday, he carried the torch together with South Korean

Kim and Ma started cross-country skiing in December 2017. Both suffered impairments to their lower limbs in



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 11 2018. 15:18 IST