The Ukrainian Athletic Federation gave an emotional presentation to conclude the 164th European Athletics Council Meeting in Munich, the host city of the 2022 European Athletics Championships, on Sunday (8).
The presentation, part of the European Athletics Focus Federation programme, was planned prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, but the emphasis had to be radically changed to take into consideration the circumstances enveloping the country due to the ongoing war.
“First of all, I want to thank the President of European Athletics Dobromir Karamarinov, European Athletics and the Presidents of the European Athletics Member Federations. On 24 February, my phone went red with all the phone calls of support from everyone,” said Yevhen Pronin, the Ukraine federation’s Acting President.
“Our initial reaction was to cancel the participation of Ukraine athletes in all international competitions but, after three days, we had a Zoom call with all the leaders of athletics in Ukraine and decided that the Ukraine anthem must be played, and the Ukraine flag must be raised.
“After we had athletes at the World Race Walking Team Championships, World Athletics Indoor Championships and European Throwing Cup, we knew it was the right decision.
“As we had our federation offices in a safe part of Ukraine, we were then able to work on sending our athletes to other European countries and now more than 250 are overseas, not just athletes but their families as well. I want to thank President Karamarinov for his support and my team for all their hard work.
“For the future, one of our objectives before the war was to rebuild a club system. Hopefully, that is something we can do,” added Pronin.
Pronin – accompanied by the federation’s Vice President and former triple jump world champion Olha Saladukha and General Secretary Iolanta Khropach – elaborated on how the federation were still conducting educational programmes online with their athletes.
“I want to pay tribute to the Ukraine federation for their determination to rise to the challenges of keeping our sport alive despite the unbelievably difficult and tragic times they are currently enduring in their homeland,” commented European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov.
“None of us envisaged, when their Focus Federation presentation was originally scheduled, that they would be talking to the European Athletics Council here in Munich while their country was being invaded and suffering such terrible deprivations.
“I am confident that the planning and actions of the Ukraine federation that they have discussed here – despite all the constraints they they will have to contend with – shows leadership of the highest level and will give hope and inspiration to everyone involved in athletics, not just in Ukraine itself but across Europe and the world as well as will demonstrate the indomitable spirit and human values of our sport.
“European Athletics will continue to support Ukraine athletes and the Ukraine people, and our training camp in Bulgaria to help Ukraine athletes continue their career and help prepare for these summer’s competitions is just one small contribution added Karamarinov.
In addition to current support, The European Athletics Council also pledged extensive support in helping to rebuild Ukraine athletics and its structures when the war in the country comes to an end.
In addition to Ukraine, Israel is the other country currently participating in the Focus Federation programme (further details of the programme can be found here) in 2022 and they also addressed the European Athletics Council on Sunday.
Israeli Athletic Association President Ami Baran gave an extensive presentation of his federation’s future vision and priorities, its collaboration with European Athletics and its various departments, as well as advancing the role of women in Israeli athletics and its high performance strategies.
In addition, the Israeli federation provided a progress report on this summer’s Jerusalem 2022 European Athletics U18 Championships, which will take place 4-7 July.
In addition to the 2025 European Athletics Indoor Championships to Apeldoorn, the Netherlands and the 2023 SPAR European Cross Country Championships to Brussels, Belgium on Friday, Saturday’s activities included an extensive report of preparations for the Munich 2022 European Athletics Championships by the Local Organising Committee.