Ukrainian delegation attends international season opener

Eight archers and two coaches from Ukraine competed at the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup held this week in the Turkish coastal city of Antalya.

The squad will not leave the season opener with any medals – but the delegation has flown its flag on the international stage despite the crisis at home.

“Olympic sport was against war throughout history,” said Oleksii Hunbin, who competed at Tokyo 2020. “Men and women must be in competition on the field of play, not on the field of war.”

A small number of elite athletes, including archers, have been allowed to evacuate the country.

Ten of the nation’s best seniors and three coaches are temporarily living and training in Germany, where they have been given institutional and private support to continue practising sport. A group of youth athletes are currently studying and shooting in Poland.

“We can’t forget what’s going on in Ukraine. We’ve also thought about this,” said Veronika Marchenko. “We need to show the world that Ukraine is still strong. It’s a normal country. It’s a humanity [sic] country. We will do… all that we can.”

The two squads, who have left friends, family and fellow archers back in Ukraine, are receiving support from across the sports community.

For this week’s event in Antalya, the Turkish Olympic Committee and national archery federation organised accommodation, while World Archery donated flights. Errea provided a new uniform while industry manufacturers have replaced equipment that was left behind when the archers left Ukraine.

There is also an online fundraising campaign through which individuals can donate to the Ukrainian team’s efforts to compete, particularly at the European Championships, in 2022.

We were a really lucky group,” said Polina Rodionova. “The best what we can do is compete in international competitions and tell the world what is Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s delegation at the first stage of the 2022 Hyundai Archery World Cup consisted of Solomiya Hnyp, Olekseii Hunbin, Ivan Kozhokar, Veronika Marchenko, Artem Ovchynnikov, Anastasia Pavlova, Polina Rodionova, Mykhailo Usach, Oleg Osypenko (coach) and Yevhenii Solonenko (coach).

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