Kyiv-based Olympic Ukrainian hammer thrower Iryna Klymets has arrived in Australia to compete at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meet in Melbourne, leaving behind her war-torn country to remind the world that Ukraine and its sportspeople will not be defeated by the Russian war against Ukraine.
Iryna has been living and training in Kyiv, but like other Ukrainians has needed to carry on her normal life with the sounds of air raid sirens and constant disruptions to power, heat, water and lighting. Training sessions have included the sounds of bombs destroying her beloved home country: see video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CohNkz5oUHQ/
Stefan Romaniw OAM, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations said today “We can’t wait to greet Iryna and cheer her on at the meet. She is a true champion in our eyes.
“She risks her life daily by living in the eye of Russian bombing and shelling. She trains with the threat of death and destruction every day.
“We are glad she will be joining us at our rally and vigil in Melbourne this Friday marking 365 days since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine this Friday,” he added.
Russia has destroyed 343 sports facilities in Ukraine, and killed 231 athletes. This includes former Youth Olympic figure skater Dmytro Sharpar, who died fighting in Bakhmut, and 11-year-old gymnastics star Kateryna Diachenko, who was killed when her house in Mariupol was destroyed by a Russian missile.
Stefan said “It is important to support Ukrainian Olympic athletes like Iryna. We congratulate the 30 countries, including America, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand, who yesterday released a joint statement urging the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Olympic Games.
“These countries have got serious concerns that Russian and Belarusian athletes cannot compete as ‘neutral’ athletes given they are “directly funded and supported by their states”.
“We can’t understand why Australia didn’t sign the statement,” he added.
Iryna is in Australia thanks to the generous support of her sponsor, Australian athletics coach Matt Horneman. With the support of the meet, he was able to sponsor Iryna’s travel to Australia from her training base in Kyiv.
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