Summer Olympic Games in London are in full swing, and Ukrainian sportsmen already have something to be proud of, as well as to feel sorry for. Ukrainian fencer Yana Shemyakina has won the first gold medal for Ukraine, defeating German Brett Heidemann with the score 9:8 in the final. The lifter Yulia Kalyna has won the bronze medal in the 58kg weight category, and Elena Kostevych has won the bronze medal in air pistol shooting from a distance of ten meters.

At the same time, Ukrainian Olympic team has already faced a major disappointment, when the men's Olympic Artistic Gymnastics Team was deprived of bronze medals. As the result of the competition, Ukraine was in bronze medal position and Japan finished in fourth, but the latter launched an inquiry into the score of Kohei Uchimura's Pommel Horse routine and judges reconsidered their decision. In the result, Japan claimed silver and Ukraine downgraded to the fourth position, losing the bronze to Great Britain. Ukrainian team has no right to launch a protest, as according to the Artistic Gymnastics regulations a team cannot challenge the actions of another team.

Having followed Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov in his visit to the Kyiv Republican sports institute, ForUm learned about the training conditions of future Olympic champions.

The tour started with visiting the hall for artistic gymnastics. It is very difficult to train properly the sportsmen in this hall, honored coach on artistic gymnastics Zinaida Gorbach told the guests.

"These conditions and equipment do not allow our sportsmen to compete with teams of Japan or Germany. Our equipment is old and broken. Look, the bars are fixed with a tape. We need German bars, new equipment. The one we have is eight years old and no longer meets the standards of the Olympic Games. The carpet is damaged. We do not have rubber carpet to train coordination. We have very poor lighting in the hall and, consequently, can train only till 5 p.m. There is another hall for artistic gymnastics on the Olympic base in Konche-Zaspa, but there are no separate halls for women and men's teams. When we were training the men's team there, the women's team had no place to go. This hall is also not equipped for two teams. We lack apparatuses," she told the state officials and journalists.

According to the coach, only women's set of equipment costs 35 thousand dollars, while the hall needs at least another set for men.

However, the major problem everyone felt was lack of air conditioning. Having entered the hall the first thing the PM Azarov did was taking off his jacket - it was that hot. According to the sportsmen, it is unbearably hot in the hall in summer and freezing cold in winter. To compensate somehow the heat, the children drink a lot of water.

Apart from necessary repair works, the team of coaches asked the governmental officials to launch a program on sport promotion. According to the coaches, children must practice various kinds of sport at schools, or parents should bring their kids directly to the sport schools without any excuses, among which the most common are lack of money or lack of time.
"We do not have masses to choose from. Football is a mass sport - there are plenty of applicants and coaches can choose. In gymnastics, we have to work with those who come. Though we have talented children, we still need more participants to be able to choose best of the best," Gorbach believes. According to her, Ukraine's sport needs a governmental support. "We train one-time gymnasts. They come out, perform and that's it. What we need is multiple results, as it used to be before when children were passing all championships of the world and Europe between the age of 6 to 10 years old. Back then, we had a possibility to train young children to be future champions. To do so now, we need to bring children to competitions at least to Russia, Belarus and other CIS countries. Unfortunately, we do not have enough financing for this," she says.

Besides, children who choose professional sport and defend the country at European championships must be guaranteed proper education. "Every Saturday I check their grades. Girls study not bad, but still, if a child trains all day and then goes for a championship, it would be difficult for him to pass the exams. We want to ask for certain discounts for our sportsmen in this respect. Being a champion of Europe but without education seems wrong," Gorbach says. 16-year-old Diana shares the views of her coach.

"My name is Diana. I am 16 years old and for the last 11 years I've been doing gymnastics. I wanted to do dances, but for a five-year-old it was too early, so my parents brought me to a sport school. I started to show some results and my local coach brought me from Cherkassy here. After my presentation, I was invited to the institute. The conditions are not that bad - food is ok and I can study. It could have been worse. The major problem for me is heat in the hall during summers, the rest will do. It would be nice if they modernize the training hall, though we will continue training anyway. Not everyone becomes an Olympic champion, but I want to reach the highest level, to finish the sports institute and to enter a university. May be gymnastics will not play leading role in my future, but it has taught me to be independent (I am here alone since 12 years old), determined and punctual. Whatever I do in my life these qualities will stay with me," the young sportsgirl told ForUm in a comment pointing out the most difficult challenge was to live without parents since 12 years old.
"We used to miss parents very much. We cried and wanted to go home. Now we are used to it and with mobiles can call every day. I see my parents one week for a New Year and two weeks in summer. The rest of the time I train," she said and added she does not repent her choice.

"I despise people who start smoking, drinking and taking drugs at early age. The authorities should do something about it. I stand for health life style. I was brought like this and I believe all children should be brought in this way. I wish more children do sport and follow healthy life style instead of hanging out somewhere in backstreets. Because of this we have such problems in the country. Now I cannot image my life without gymnastics. Staying at home, I sometimes think I would prefer to go for training. I am happy to do this sport. It has taught me to be strong in my will and my spirit. However, I don't know if I bring my children to do gymnastics, as this kind of sport is very traumatic, but spectacular though," Diana said with enthusiasm.

After the artistic gymnastics hall, the Premier went to visit the football field. Observing the stadium Azarov recalled the episode when Ukraine's national football team was deprived of a score during the match with England. Encouraging the players the Premier pointed out that "in order to prevent such situations Ukraine has to win with the score 8:0".

"Now we are working on the program 3 in 27. 3 means stadium, pool and universal sport complex, 27 means 25 regions of Ukraine, Kyiv and Sevastopol. Within the next couple of years, we intend to open modern sport complexes. This complex is good, but it does need some repair works. We will take this into account and will take proper measures," the Premier promised and said he would send a group of specialists to make a modernization project.

The Prime Minister also promised to take into account the recommendations of the very children and to create the whole modern system of artificial climate.

The team of coaches welcomed the Premier's comments and looked happy with the promises of coming modernization. The young sportsmen, in turn, bolted to finish the training and to call their parents to speak about the day.

Tetyan Grygorieva
Photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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