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Ukraine's national gymnastics ensemble team train in Greece

Ukrainian gymnastics team
Ukrainian gymnastics team Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Ioannis Karagiorgas
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Ukraine's national gymnastics ensemble team train in Greece — while their minds and hearts remain in Ukraine

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While sport can provide solace and an escape for athletes, the brutal reality of war is never far from the minds of the Ukrainian national gymnastics team.

The Ukrainian ensemble team were training in Greece last week, in preparation for the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup which took place over the weekend in Athens.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee helped fund the team’s participation in the competition, given the difficulty facing many Ukrainians back home.

One member of the team, Yeva Meleshchuk, told Euronews that while many of her fellow gymnasts are supportive, the tensions of the war can be felt in the sporting community.

"There were many girls who supported us and tried to stand by our side. Most European countries helped us and are helping us financially to go to the games," she said.

“Of course, the gymnasts from Russia and Belarus did not speak to us and did not say anything to support us. In fact, they are angry with us because we take part in competitions while they don't."

Despite the bombs back home, the Ukrainian national team is constantly travelling for the tournaments to compete.

But training in a warzone is not a simple affair. The team's coach told Euronews that one day, during a training session, air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv, but the girls in the team refused to stop practising, even though she told them to go to the shelter.

This determination, paired with a desensitisation to the horrors of war, made her cry.

Watch the full report by Euronews’ Ioannis Karagiorgas above.

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