“My body is here, in Portugal, but my heart is in Ukraine”

The Ukrainian delegation present at the European Launch Cup is physically in Portugal but with the heart in Ukraine

The Ukrainian delegation present at the European Launch Cup is physically in Portugal but with heart in Ukraine, said athlete Iryna Klymets in Leiria.

“My body is here, in Portugal, but my heart is in Ukraine, with my family, my homeland. With my Ukraine,” the pitcher told Lusa, admitting it is “strange and difficult” to accept to be in competition while there is war in their country of origin.

“I know we have to train, prepare and compete, because it’s our life. We want to show the world that we are strong, that we are not happy with what happened to us and that we are fighting for our dreams, for our country. the strength of the Ukrainian people,” the hammer thrower said.

Twice Olympic athlete -Rio’2016 and Tokyo’2020-, five-time representative of Ukraine in world athletics, Iryna, 27, is part of the entourage of six elements (five athletes and a chef de mission) who is located in Leiria.

For all that is happening, the presence of Ukrainians in the European Launch Cup is particularly symbolic:

“It’s hard to explain our feeling at the moment. I want to thank the European federation, the Portuguese federation and the Polish federation who helped us to be here and to have the chance to train and prepare for the season, as well than Leiria and Juventude Vidigalense during these three days. But it is painful to know that our parents are suffering in Ukraine”.

Born in Lutsk, a city in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border and 400 kilometers from the capital Kiev, Iryna has to hold back her tears when she talks about “the destruction of the city, with the aerial bombardments of yesterday evening”.

“It’s very scary,” he laments.

Despite the conflict that afflicts and destroys Ukraine, Iryna Klymets keeps sporting goals alive:

“My goals are the Worlds in Oregon [nos Estados Unidos da América] and European in Munich [na Alemanha]. I want to win medals in these competitions, I know I can and I will fight for it. While my people will fight on the field, I will fight on another field, in my specialty, to raise the flag of Ukraine.”

After the European Launch Cup, the group will go to another preparation tournament in Turkey. But for now, he will not return to Ukraine, “until the situation improves. It’s dangerous to live when there are attacks every day…”.

Mykhailo Kokhan was the first of the group to compete in Leiria on Saturday: the hammer won the under-23 category, throwing 74.59 metres.

On Sunday, Iryna Klymets (hammer), Alyona Shut (hammer), Daria Garkusha (discus, under-23) and Olena Khamaza (hammer, under-23) get into action.

On February 24, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine which has already left at least 564 dead and more than 982 injured among the civilian population and caused the flight of around 4.5 million people, including 2.5 million towards neighboring countries, according to the latest UN report. The data.

The Russian invasion was condemned by most of the international community, which responded by sending arms to Ukraine and increasing economic sanctions against Moscow.

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