“The Will to Win”: Russian Aggression Destroys Ukrainian sports

“The Will to Win” multimedia exhibition, supported by the Office of the President of Ukraine, was opened in Kyiv. It is dedicated to the participation of Ukrainian athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the purpose of which is to emphasize the invincible will of Ukrainians to victory. “The Will to Win” became the motto of Ukraine’s participation in the Olympic Games. Ukraine is the first country in the world that, in a full-scale war, sends a delegation of its athletes to the Olympics.

The exhibition contains a photo exhibition and a series of short documentaries. The exhibition tells about the incredible willpower and resilience of Ukrainian athletes. Despite the dramatic challenges of war, losses and suffering of people, Ukrainians overcome numerous obstacles and demonstrate their will to win to the whole world.

The heroes of the exhibition are prominent Ukrainian athletes:

  • Victoria Onoprienko is a gymnast and European champion, whose father defends Ukraine at the front.
  • Zhan Beleniuk — Olympic champion, Greco-Roman wrestler, who actively informs the world community about the true face of the “Russikiy mir”.
  • Alexandra Paskal is an eight-year-old gymnast who was awarded the “Courage in Time of War” title by the “Children Heroes” patriotic action. In 2022, as a result of a Russian missile attack on Zatoka in the Odesa region, Alexandra lost her leg. After going through rehab and getting her prosthesis, she resumed training in rhythmic gymnastics.
  • Yulia Levchenko – a high jumper from Bakhmut, destroyed by Russian occupiers.
  • Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva – the twin sisters, bronze medalists of the 2020 Summer Olympics from Kharkiv. The pool where the sisters trained was damaged due to Russian shelling.
  • Serhiy Stakhovsky — number one tennis player in Ukraine, who after a full-scale invasion joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“The Will to Win” exhibition has become a symbol of the resilience of the Ukrainian people. Every exhibit and every story reminds us of the trials Ukrainian athletes go through as they continue to fight for their country and their dreams. They are an example of courage and fortitude for the whole world.

Let’s take a closer look at the fate of the young gymnast Alexandra Paskal, who became a symbol of the indomitable will and spirit of Ukrainians. An eight-year-old girl lost her leg in 2022, when a Russian missile attacked the town of Zatoka in the Odesa region. Despite this tragedy, Alexandra not only did not give up, but continues to train hard.

Alexandra has been involved in rhythmic gymnastics from an early age and has already proven herself to be a promising athlete. However, one day, when it seemed that her future would be within the sport, Russian shelling changed her life forever. The loss of her leg was a heavy blow for the girl and her family, but it did not break her spirit. After prosthetics and rehabilitation, Alexandra resumed her training. Her tenacity and resilience inspire many people, proving that the most difficult circumstances cannot prevent from following your dreams. Alexandra received “Courage in Time of War ” award within the “Children Heroes” action.

The young athlete’s training became even more intense, as the girl goal is the participation in the Olympic Games. The dream of the Olympics is a powerful motivator for her and her coaches. They believe that Alexandra will be able to overcome all obstacles and prove to the whole world that fortitude and determination can overcome any difficulties.

Alexandra Paskal has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for many Ukrainians and people around the world. Her story is not just a story about a young gymnast, but an example of how to overcome tragedy and continue to fight for your dreams. In time of war and constant threats, these stories confirm that the human spirit cannot be broken.

(Instagram’s photo of Ukrainian gymnast Alexandra Paskal)

Russian aggression has a devastating effect on Ukrainian sports. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russian aggression has already claimed the lives of 455 athletes and coaches. Modern sports arenas, youth centers and other physical education and sports facilities are subject to daily shelling. 518 sports infrastructure facilities in Ukraine were destroyed and damaged, including 15 sports facilities with the status of Olympic and Paralympic training bases. Youth centers and spaces are also under the enemy shelling. Today there is information that 42 such objects have been completely destroyed or damaged, and another 64 are located in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

As it is known, Russian and Belarusian athletes often represent sports organizations associated with the Russian armed forces. Some of them serve in the Russian army. That is, they are guilty of the Kremlin’s war crimes in Ukraine. More than 570 Russian and Belarusian athletes are included in the list of those who support Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. The world community must be aware and do everything possible to ensure that every Russian or Belarusian athlete who supports an aggressive war is excluded from international sports! Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed to any competition, even under a neutral flag. Russian sport has nothing to do with development and peace. After all, the motto of the Olympics is “Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter” in Latin (“Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together,” in English). However, in any case, Ukraine’s partner states can’t be with an aggressor country that is trying to devide the world.

Putin’s regime seeks to conquer and control not only Ukraine, posing a threat to the stability and security of Europe and the whole world. Therefore, today, more than ever, Ukraine needs the active and solidary support of the international community. Ukrainians need powerful military assistance, including air and missile defense, modern weapons and ammunition. Financial assistance is needed to restore infrastructure, energy and civil facilities, including sports, as well as for the vital needs of the Ukrainian population affected by hostilities. The international community must speak with one voice in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression. Solidarity, coordinated efforts in the sanction policy, military and humanitarian assistance will make it possible to stop the Kremlin occupiers and restore peace and stability in the region.