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Russia's Paralympic Skiers Sweep Podium in 15km Cross-Country

Irek Zarilov, Roman Petushkov and Alexander Davidovitch completed a clean medal sweep for Russia. (Ilya Pitalev / RIA Novosti)
KRASNAYA POLYANA — Roman Petushkov became the first athlete to win two gold medals at the Sochi Paralympics as Russia swept the podium in the men's 15km cross-country sit-skiing.

Petushkov on Sunday added cross-country skiing gold to his victory in Saturday's 7.5km biathlon, taking Russia's medal count to five golds. The 35-year-old double amputee also has a silver and bronze to his name from Vancouver 2010.

"I was trying to spread out my efforts carefully because the race is very long, and it is important to cover it correctly from a psychological point of view," Petushkov said. "It is the merit of the coaches that I reached such a great shape. It just cannot be the other way — we should win in our homeland, and my win is a merit of the whole team."

Petushkov dominated throughout Sunday's race and finished a full minute and 3 seconds ahead of compatriot Irek Zaripov. Another Russian, Alexander Davidovich, took the bronze, 14 seconds off Zaripov's time and just 0.2 seconds ahead of fast-finishing Ukrainian Maxim Yarovyi. It is the first podium sweep by any country at the Sochi Paralympics.

"I have been heading towards this medal for nine years," said Davidovich who represented Belarus at the previous two Winter Paralympics. "And today this bronze medal is like a gold one for me. I'm so happy. Today is only the second day of competition, and we are on the right path. Russia will show what is is capable of."

The race used so-called "calculated time," in which each athlete's time is modified by a percentage reflecting the extent of their disability.

The women's 12km sitting event follows later Sunday.

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