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Ukrainian athletes fight for Rio chance

Wednesday, July 06 2016 by SNTV
  • Athletes from the conflict-riven region of Eastern Ukraine (Donbass) fight for their chance to take part at the Olympic Games in Rio.

    SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Serhiy Smelyk, Ukrainian 200-metre champion:

    "All my blood relatives live there (in the Luhansk region of Ukraine). We call each other, sometimes they come here, I went there as well a few times for the New Year holidays. How can I not to visit my brothers and my parents? They cheer for me every time, they worry for me and I can't abandon them."

    SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Serhiy Smelyk, 2014 200-metre bronze medallist:

    "My salary as a member of the National Team doesn't allow me to afford such a luxury as a rented apartment in Kiev for 5000-6000 gryvnas (US$ 200-240). Moreover, we all know how expensive facilities are. I don't have a dwelling (in Kiev) or anything else, that's why if the funding stops (if the National Olympic Committee and Athletic Federation will stop subsidising him so that he can rent an apartment in Kiev after the Olympic Games), I'll have no other choices but to pack my bags, load them into my old small Skoda and take off in the direction of home (to Luhansk)."

    SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Olha Lyakhova, Ukrainian 800-metre runner:

    "Our training and team meetings had been held in Donetsk previously. We usually trained at stadiums and sports areas there. I liked that very much, they were very good places. But now we don't have these opportunities any more. My coach has apartments and other property there. He has lost everything for now. It had a serious impact on us and on our preparations (for the Olympic Games). Everything is much more difficult now."

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