Ukrainian gymnast calls for end to war after World Championship debut

Marharyta Kozlovska competes on her World Championship debut in Liverpool (pic: Simone Ferraro)
Marharyta Kozlovska competes on her World Championship debut in Liverpool (pic: Simone Ferraro)

By Paul Martin in Liverpool

Ukrainian gymnast Marharyta Kozlovska has used her World Championship platform to call for an end to the conflict tearing apart her homeland.

Kozlovska and her teammates saw October’s national championships in Kyiv end a day early due to Russian air strikes and have had to make use of other nations' facilities to prepare for the Liverpool showpiece.

The 17-year-old helped Ukraine to a team score of 142.729 in qualifying – enough for fifth after the third of ten subdivisions.

With the top eight nations to compete in Tuesday’s team final, Ukraine’s score is unlikely to be enough but simply making it to this stage is a success in itself.

“I remember the moments when we were preparing for this competition and I want to say to all the world a big ‘thank you’ that you helped us (to be here),” Kozlovska said.

“We had to train in different countries and it was a very big help to us to have a chance to train before the world championships.

“I think if everybody can stop the war, it’s very important for us.”

Kozlovska earned all-around bronze at the national championships before their premature end and scored 45.199 at the M&S Bank Arena, her best performance coming on the vault.

She is not the only member of the Ukrainian team to have spoken out about the situation back home during a World Championships which is not featuring Russian and Belarusian athletes, Illia Kovtun seen sporting a ‘Stop War’ t-shirt during his podium training.

“I like his T-shirt; I really like his T-shirt,” she said.

“I understand that some people don’t like it and say that he shouldn’t have worn it, but in this way we can speak to the world, and that’s all that we can do.”

The World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 will be one of the largest international sporting events ever to be held in the city. Over 500 gymnasts from more than 70 countries will compete at the M&S Bank Arena from 29 October to 6 November 2022. Tickets are available at www.2022worldgymnastics.com/tickets.