Ukrainian biathlete Anastasiia Laletina was forced to pull out of the women’s sitting middle distance event at the Beijing Winter Paralympics on Tuesday after her father was captured by Russian forces, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee.
“Her father is a soldier in the Ukrainian army and [was taken] prisoner by Russian soldiers. They beat him,” said Ukrainian Paralympic team spokeswoman Nataliia Harach, to AFP News.
The spokeswoman told Reuters they had no further details on his capture.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, which Moscow describes as a “special operation” to disarm the country, prompted the International Paralympic Committee to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games.
The spokeswoman said that the 19-year-old Laletina was still in Zhangjiakou, China — the venue for the cross-country skiing and biathlon events — and will fly out to Poland with the rest of contingent at the end of the Games.
Despite the initial uncertainty around their participation, Ukraine continued to collect medals at the Games on Wednesday by winning a silver and bronze in cross-country skiing. They are third in the table, where the ranking is based on gold medals won, behind hosts China and Canada.
WATCH | Russian, Belarusian athletes barred from Beijing Paralympics: