President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during a meeting with the champions and prize-winners of the 16th Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which took place in Kyiv on Friday, awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to five-time Games champion, silver and bronze medalist, swimmer Maksym Kripak.
"You are record holders. You are supermen. You have no flaws. You have superpowers ... You have demostrated that if Ukrainians start something on August 24 [the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo began on August 24, on Ukraine's Independence Day], then this will certainly turn into a great success. Each of you is a Hero. Nevertheless, especially at the games in Tokyo, the star of Maksym Kripak shone and our Ukrainian swimmer won seven awards," Zelensky said speaking to the Paralympic team of Ukraine.
The head of state stressed that swimmer Kripak became the best athlete of the Paralympics in Tokyo and set a new record, which had been held for 11 years before him.
"In one interview, Kripak said that his role model is the example of the great athlete Michael Phelps. You said that you want to be better than him ... You are already definitely not worse. And for us you are definitely better. And let Phelps not be offended by us, but you are definitely better. Because, with all due respect to the great athlete, the eyes of 40 million Ukrainians are not fixed on screens when Phelps is swimming. And this is normal. He is just a hero of another country. He is not our hero. We have our eyes fixed on the screens when you are swimming. Because you are our hero. And from today on - the Hero of Ukraine," Zelensky said.
Later, an official decree of the head of state was published on conferring the title of Hero of Ukraine to Maksym Kripak on the website of the president.
It says that the title of Hero to Kripak was awarded for outstanding sporting achievements at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, shown dedication and will to win, asserting the international authority of Ukraine.