WMPC 23 – Close up Ukraine

There are many ongoing conflicts in the world, one of them in Ukraine. To be an athlete competing on a world championship level is demanding in many ways in peacetime. If your country is at war it gets more complicated, but not impossible. Meet the Ukrainian Team Captain Lieutenant Colonel Serhii Shevchuk in a conversation about sports and friendship.

Team Ukraine and team captains
Team Ukraine and team captains
The Ukrainian Team at the World Military Pentathlon Championship in Halmstad, Sweden. Photo: Alexander Gustavsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Ukrainian shooter won
Ukrainian Major Vasyl Hilianchuk won the shooting competition with the score of 199 out of 200 possible. Photo: Alexander Gustavsson/Swedish Armed Forces
Ukrainian racing the obstacle course.
Ukrainian competitor racing at the obstacle course. Photo: Alexander Gustavsson/Swedish Armed Forces

– We are proud to be here and to make Ukraine known to all the other teams who are gathered here, Serhii says. We defend the honour of Ukraine here in the military competition.

What about the preparations for the championship?

– Maybe we are not prepared in the best way due to the circumstances, but our ambitions are rather high nevertheless.  Most preparations are made in Ukraine and we have managed to have three training camps before the championship. We were also invited to the Czech Republic for a regional competition before this championship, which we are very grateful for. It takes a lot of effort to compete with the best athletes for the top places in the result list, but we do our best. It really raised the spirit in the team when one of our team members won the shooting competition the other day.

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Lieutenant Colonel Serhii Shevchuk, Team Captain of the Ukrainian Pentathlon Team. Photo: Charlotte Pettersson/Swedish Armed Forces

What about the challenges to gather a team and train for a world championship?

– We have plans for participating in the CISM (International Military Sports Council) competitions, but all our team members are military officers with a daily duty in military academies or other units. Almost every day almost all parts of Ukraine are affected in one way or the other by the situation in the country. Because of that we have to sometimes cancel the training and get back to it again. Another example is to travel with the team. Normally it is rather easy to travel by airplane to Sweden. Now we have to find other ways to travel which takes much longer.

What have you learned by experience of the importance of sports and physical readiness?

– Physical preparation and training is very important for managing the combat in the battlefield, to be able to march, carry heavy weaponry and engage in close combat for example. But sports are also very important in physical and psychological rehabilitation.

How does it feel to be here in Sweden competing in WMPC 23?

– We really feel the friendship here. We feel the friendly atmosphere from the hosts and the members of the other teams. We feel the spirit of friendship among military personnel, which we really appreciate. It is a peaceful situation for us here.  But nevertheless the athletes are competitors and can be a little bit nervous before competing in a discipline. We are very grateful to Sweden and the Swedish Armed Forces for extreme hospitality during the championship.