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Paralympics

Andrea Eskau and Anna Schaffelhuber win gold for Germany in Sochi Paralympics

Andrea Eskau has won the first gold medal for the German team at the 11th Winter Paralympics in Sochi. Anna Schaffelhuber won the second. The Games were officially opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

Andrea Eskau, 42, on Saturday won the first German gold medal at this year's Winter Paralympics in Sochi, claiming victory in the six-kilometer biathlon sprint in the sitting category.

It is Eskau's first gold at Winter Paralympics, after winning three golds in previous summer Games. Svetlana Konovalova from Russia won silver, and Ukrainian Olena Iurkovska received bronze.

Shortly after, Anna Schaffelhuber, 21, won gold in the women's downhill alpine skiing event in the sitting category. She beat two US athletes, Alana Nichols and Laurie Stephens. German Anna-Lena Förster came in fourth.

It's Schaffelhuber's second Paralympics medal, after she took home bronze in the Super G during the Vancouver games in 2010.

Crimea tensions in play

The German wins come after an opening ceremony on Friday that was overshadowed by the crisis situation in Ukraine.

Ukraine was among the nations that participated in the opening ceremony, but warned it could withdraw from the Games if Russia makes more military moves in Crimea.

Ukraine was represented at the event by just one of its 23-strong team - biathlete and cross-country skier Mykhaylo Tkachenko.

The Games were officially declared open by Russian President Vladimir Putin after all 45 teams had presented themselves.

Altogether around 550 athletes will participate in the 11th Winter Paralympics, which are to close on March 16. Seventy-two gold medals in all are up for grabs.

Germany topped the medal table four years ago in Vancouver, Canada.

tj/se (SID, dpa)

DW.DE