Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka fears for athletes’ safety | More sports News



GENEVA: Ukrainian sporting legend Sergey Bubka said on Friday he was spending every waking hour trying to locate Ukrainian athletes, fearing for their safety when the line of contact cuts out.
Former Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder Bubka said some athletes were stuck in conflict-hit areas of the country following Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24.
Bubka, who is the president of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee, said he hoped to help as many athletes as possible, both inside and outside the country.
“I am wounded to my core by what is taking place in my country, and I am calling to put an urgent end to this war,” he said in an interview published by the International Olympic Committee.
“I am spending every second of every day coordinating efforts… to identify where the athletes, coaches and their families are located, and then work out how we can best help them.
“It is very hard, as people are constantly dropping out of communication, and we are very worried for their safety.”
The 58-year-old — who was crowned world outdoor champion on six successive occasions and broke the world record 35 times — spoke of the difficulties in helping Ukrainian sportsmen and women during the conflict.
“Some athletes, coaches and their families are still living in the war zone. We are attempting to help them the best we can considering the situation,” he said, while other athletes outside Ukraine needed different kinds of help.
Bubka said he sometimes falls asleep at midnight with his phone in his hand, and occasionally takes sleeping pills to get a few hours’ sleep, but wakes up again at 3:00am and starts making more calls.
“Like all Ukrainians, every day I struggle to sleep,” he said.
Bubka insisted Ukrainian athletes should continue to compete on the world stage despite the war.
“Our athletes can inspire others by showing the resilience of the Ukrainian people and help send a message of solidarity and peace,” he said, citing the national team which finished second in the medals table at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.
Bubka, who is also the senior vice-president of World Athletics, added: “Despite the difficult conditions, our athletes continue to train. They are showing the strength of their spirit.
“We want to see our flag and to hear our anthem at all sports venues around the world.”


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