Paralympic champion (and sports minister) makes history again

Romanian cyclist Eduard Novak, the current Minister of Youth and Sports, won the Paralympic silver medal in the men’s C4 4000 m individual pursuit on Friday, at the Izu Velodrome in Tokyo. The Paralympics started on Tuesday, where Romania’s current sports minister competes in cycling.

45 year old Novak thus brings the first medal for Team Romania’s Paralympic delegation and the fourth in his career after the gold won at the 2012 London Games, silver in 2008 in Beijing and another silver in London 2012.

Novak thus becomes not only the first minister to participate in the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but also the first sitting medal-winning minister in the history of the Games.

The history of the Romanian Paralympics is not as rich in medals as the Olympics. Romanian athletes have won four medals at the Paralympics so far, out of which three were obtained by Eduard Novak, present Youth and Sports Minister. Novák was the first to gain a medal for the country. At the 2008 Paralympics, he won a silver medal, and four years later, he became Romania’s first Paralympics champion.

Novak started out as a speed skater but turned to cycling after a car accident left him with only one foot. As a professional cyclist, he has represented Romania in four Paralympic Games, in Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.

He took home a gold for the 1-kilometer track race at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London – a first for Romania – and set a new world record to boot. He has also been the head of the Romanian Cycling Federation since 2013.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) proposed the Paralympic champion for the job of Sports Minister, an offer he could not refuse. In the meantime, the 2020 Paralympic Games were canceled, an event he had intensely prepared for. He hoped that by the summer of 2021 he could assemble a team in the ministry that would be able to do the work independently, so he would still have some time for training.

“My most important project for 2021 is the creation of a new sports strategy for Romania,” he stated at the beginning of his mandate.

Novak only confirmed he would be competing in the middle of August.

Romania will be represented by seven athletes altogether at the Paralympic Games, which will run until September 5.

Featured photo: sportsmedia.ro

Author: Blanka Székely