Many Ukrainian athletes took action against the Russian invasion of their country, some even going so far as to take up arms.
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Former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko changed the jacket of the mayor of Kyiv in a fatigue to organize the defense of his city and its 3 million inhabitants.
“I train constantly, train as a former officer and chief of district defense (…) I know how to shoot with almost any weapon,” he told AFP on February 10.
His younger brother Wladimir, also a former boxing champion, signed up as a reserve soldier.
Former world lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko joins the regional defense battalion in Belgorod-Dnistrovsky, near Odessa. The 34-year-old boxer appeared on Facebook in military garb with a machine gun over his shoulder.
World heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk also puts the gun in his hand on the Instagram account of the Kharkov boxing club with the caption: “Oleksandr Usyk participated in the territorial defense of the capital and the Kyiv region “.
Asked by CNN from the cellar of his home near Kyiv, he said he wanted to “defend his home, wife, children and loved ones.” “I don’t want to shoot, I don’t want to kill,” he adds, but in case of an attack, “I will have no choice but to respond.”
Ukrainian biathletes have given up competing at the World Cup events in March. In 2019, world pursuit champion Dmytro Pidruchnyi posted on his social networks a photo of himself in combat gear in Ternopil, western Ukraine, where he said he was joining the National Guard.
A former young Ukrainian biathlete, Yevhen Malyshev, died while serving in the Ukrainian army this week, the International Federation (IBU) reported on Wednesday. He was 19 years old.
Sergei Stakhovsky, the 31st former player in the world, also participated in the “ground resistance”. “I have no military experience. “Experience only with guns in private,” the 36-year-old retired actor tearfully said on Twitter. “I hope I don’t have to use a gun,” he told British radio station Radio 4 on Tuesday.
He left his family in Hungary. “I don’t know how I got there. I know it’s been very difficult for my wife. My children don’t know I’m here. They don’t understand war.
Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, blue skirt and yellow ball – the colors of her country – beat Russia’s Anastasia Potapova at the WTA tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, on Tuesday. “All the bonuses I earn here will go to the army,” she said, moved to the applause of the audience.
The day before, he wrote on Twitter, “I am far from you, far from my loved ones and people, but my heart is full of you.” “I am Ukraine, we are Ukraine.”
She had the support of the Russian champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who expressed her “disagreement” with this war. “I’m not afraid to say what my opinion is. I am against war and violence,” she said.
Some players of the Ukrainian election – including the headlines Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko – called for “resistance” against the Russian occupation in a video released by the Ukrainian Federation (UAF).
“We ask everyone in football to oppose Russian propaganda, to show and tell the truth about the war in Ukraine in every possible way,” said Zbirna’s thirteen players.
Zinchenko (Manchester City), Yarmolenko (West Ham), Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta Bergamo) or Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk) are interspersed with footage of the conflict in the two-minute clip.
A few of these internationals raised 500,000 euros for the Ukrainian armed forces.
Yuriy Vernydub, the Ukrainian coach of Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol, has returned to his country to join his defense. Dynamo Moscow’s Ukrainian assistant coach Andriy Voronin slammed the door on his way to Germany. He told the German newspaper Bild that he “can no longer work in the country that bombed his homeland”. Words reminiscent of the words Sarajevo child Ivica Osim used to announce his resignation as Yugoslavia coach in 1992.
Former star forward of Dynamo Kiev, former coach of AC Milan and Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko is very active on social networks, where he posts messages of support for his country every day. Playing for Chelsea at the end of his career, the 2004 Ballon d’Or attended a show in London last Sunday, and one of his sons posed for a photo with the Ukrainian flag on his back.
Before the first leg of the Italian Cup (0-0) between AC Milan and Inter on Tuesday evening, the former Rossoneri star appeared in a video message, clad in yellow and blue, calling for peace to San Siro’s applause. After retiring from sports, Shevchenko tried his hand at politics, but in 2012 he failed to become a member of the Ukrainian parliament.
More cautiously, pole vault legend and Ukrainian National Olympic Committee (NOC) president Sergei Bubka conveyed on Twitter a call for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be excluded from international sports competitions launched by the International Olympic Committee on Monday.
In the previous message, on the third day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the first man to cross a 6-metre bar expressed his thanks for the messages of support from around the world. “The war must end, peace and humanity must prevail,” he said.