from kyiv to Eugene, the uncomfortable homelessness of Ukrainian athletes


Save your life first. Then attempt to discover a day by day high-level athlete. For the reason that starting of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, like thousands and thousands of others, nearly all of the athletes of the Ukrainian nationwide group have taken the highway to exile. They left behind their dwelling, their family members, their coaching floor. Due to the help of the worldwide athletics group, 22 of them are participating from Friday July 15 to 24 on the earth championships in Eugene, Oregon (United States).

Amongst them, Nataliya Strebkova traces up on Saturday, at 7:35 p.m. (Paris time), within the 3,000 m steeplechase sequence, two weeks after breaking the nationwide document for the occasion in Stockholm (Sweden). A feat for an athlete who has been coaching alone for 4 months. “My coach stayed in Ukraine. He sends me my coaching plans in writing and he calls me”she tells franceinfo: sport.

Since leaving kyiv on March 16, the 27-year-old Ukrainian has been touring from one nation to a different: Turkey, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and now the US. “The Turkish and Lithuanian federations paid for my coaching programs of their buildings. Then, the organizers of the competitions during which I participated financed the journey and lodging”particulars the athlete, who needed to resolve to flee with out her husband.


Confronted with the drama skilled by these athletes, the Worldwide Athletics Federation (World Athletics) is mobilizing. With the Worldwide Athletics Basis and the members of the Diamond League affiliation, it has managed a solidarity fund because the starting of April for “help skilled athletes and their fast household (dad and mom, kids, partner) affected by the battle” in Ukraine.

Initially endowed with $190,000 (since inflated to $220,000), this fund goals to “to make sure that elite athletes and their sporting entourage can proceed to coach, qualify and take part within the Worlds in Eugene and Cali [pour les moins de 20 ans]“, poses World Athletics. In response to the federation, as of June 30, 53 athletes, 25 coaches and officers and 18 relations (together with kids) have benefited from it.

The cash is used to finance coaching camps and momentary lodging for athletes in Europe, in addition to their journeys to competitions and even gear. Virtually all the prices associated to the participation of the Ukrainian group within the Eugene Worlds have been additionally financed by the fund arrange by World Athletics. For its half, the Worldwide Olympic Committee introduced on July 3 its intention to triple its direct assist to Ukrainian athletes (all disciplines mixed), bringing it to 7.5 million {dollars} (in opposition to 2.5 initially) .

Oleksii Serdiuchenko, head of the Ukrainian group in Eugene, estimates that there are 600 athletes carrying the nationwide jersey, on the monitor and on the highway, of all ages and all ranges. “We attempt to assist everybody nevertheless it’s troublesome. From these funds, we make proposals to satisfy wants that differ in accordance with individuals”, he explains to franceinfo: sport from Chula Vista, California, the place the Ukrainian group finalized its preparation earlier than the Worlds.

“Our precedence is first to avoid wasting the lives of athletes. Second, to provide them the chance to coach.”

Oleksii Serdiunchenko, head coach of the Ukrainian group

at franceinfo: sport

With no prospect of fast return, athletes are pressured to reside in suitcases. “I actually wish to go dwelling”launched Yaroslava Mahuchikh on Instagram on June 6, unhappy on the thought of ​​discovering his “momentary lodging”. The day earlier than, her eyes made up within the colours of her nation, the 20-year-old excessive jumper had received the competitors organized in Rabat (Morocco) as a part of the Diamond League.

Two weeks later, her compatriot Nataliya Strebkova determined to return to kyiv for ten days. “I missed my husband and my household an excessive amount of.“However the day by day alarms, saying an imminent bombardment, forestall him from concentrating on his periods. “My coaching was not good. I used to be scared. Folks undergo this each day, it is terrible, she breathes. Just a few days in the past, my husband knowledgeable me that 5 rockets had exploded lower than two kilometers from the home. Every single day the information is horrible.”

To the fixed concern for his or her family members left behind is added the discomfort of a life on maintain. “I’m free to maneuver, however paralyzed in my feelings. An excessive amount of concern, an excessive amount of despair, an excessive amount of ache”, thus poured out the triple bounce specialist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, on July 8, on Instagram. Just a few weeks earlier, she confided discovering consolation and motivation earlier than coaching in listening to Ukrainian songs.

After the Eugene Worlds, Nataliya Strebkova hopes that her husband, additionally an athlete, will be capable of be part of her at her coaching camp for the European Championships in Munich (August 11 to 21). “If not, I’ll return dwelling to coach.” Past this final deadline of the summer season, it’s unattainable for her to mission herself.

In Eugene, along with aiming for medals, these athletes make it their mission to put on their colours excessive. “We wish to encourage all Ukrainians, to encourage our troopers. If we win medals, the inhabitants will be capable of learn within the newspapers one thing aside from information associated to the warfare”, claims Oleksii Serdiuchenko. Regardless of her day by day difficulties, Nataliya Strebkova claims to have at coronary heart “do his finest” : “Everyone seems to be doing their job. The troopers are on the entrance line, the medical doctors are mobilized within the hospitals, I can run and present the world that we’re sturdy regardless of the warfare.”

Already in March, the group with the blue and yellow flag demonstrated its resilience on the Indoor Worlds in Belgrade (Serbia). Lower than a month after the outbreak of warfare, the small Ukrainian delegation (six feminine athletes) introduced their nation with two medals. Yaroslava Mahuchikh landed thegold within the top, whereas Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk received silver within the triple bounce.

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