Is there any more awaited sporting event than the Olympic Games? There is probably no other one. In 2021, though the official title preserved the previous year in it, is more than special due to the pandemics, challenging preparation and change of the Olympic motto for the first time ever. Now it reads: “Faster, Higher, Stronger — Together”. 157 athletes, who will compete in 25 sports, represent Ukraine at the Tokio Olympics. Let’s get to know 10 Ukrainian stars.
Daria Bilodid, judo
Daria Bilodid is a Ukrainian judoka born in 2000. In her 20 years, she already has much to be proud of. Daria is a two times World Champion and a European Champion in the category under 48 kg. Worth mentioning that winning her first World Championship title made Daria the youngest judo champion ever — she was only 17 then! Fully deserved that the International Judo Federation named Daria Bilodid Female Judoka of the Year 2019-2020.
Elina Svitolina, tennis
Elina Svitolina (Elina Monfils) is undoubtedly Ukraine’s most successful tennis player with the highest career ranking as the world’s #3 that she achieved twice — in 2017 and 2019. Her current position at line #6 is promising as well. During Elina’s professional career, she has won 15 WTA singles titles and reached at least the singles quarter-final at all Grand Slam tournaments. At the 2016 Olympics, Elina got into the top-8, so let’s see if an Olympic honeymoon right after her marriage to Gael Monfils will give her extra courage to win an Olympic medal.
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, athletics (long jump)
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk is a Ukrainian athlete that specializes in the long jump. With her personal record of 6.93 m, 6.96 m indoor, and a silver medal at the last World Championship, Maryna is one of those who have a shot at Tokyo medals. In 2021, she has already shown some high-quality results, winning, for example, a Diamond League Meeting a week and a half before the Olympics.
Mykhailo Romanchuk, swimming
Mykhailo Romanchuk is a swimmer whose signature disciplines are 1500 m and 800 m freestyle. He is a World Cup Record breaker and holder of 10 medals from the World and European Championships. His surname is not a coincidence, as he is a husband to Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk. By the way, they can set an unusual record, becoming the first married couple from Ukraine in the 21st century to win Olympic medals within the same Olympic competition.
Olena Kostevych, shooting
In this sporting career, Olena Kostevych has gathered titles and medals at all possible levels. She is an Olympic Champion 2004, World Champion 2002 and 2018, a multiple World Cup and European Championship winner. Tokyo 2020 is Olena’s fifth Olympic Games, where she will perform in two disciplines — 10 m air pistol shooting and 25 m pistol shooting. Being among the most experienced Ukrainian athletes, she has everything to get another Olympic medal under her belt.
Oleksandr Khyzhniak, boxing
Oleksandr Khyzhniak is another Ukrainian hope for a successful Tokyo Olympics performance. Boxing has become the strong side among Ukraine’s Olympic athletes, who have gathered 14 medals since the 1996 Olympics. Oleksandr, the World & European Championship winner, was named the best amateur boxer regardless of weight categories by the AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) in 2017. Now he has a clear ambition to follow Wladimir Klitschko’s golden steps.
Oleksii Sereda, diving
The rising diving star from Ukraine Oleksii Sereda was barely 13 years old when he literally shocked the sports community by winning the 2019 European Diving Championship in the individual 10 m platform competition among adults. The youngest champion ever! At the World Championship the same year, he came one step from bronze in both individual and synchronized diving. Let’s see if Oleksii can bring us another sensational result now in Tokyo.
Olha Kharlan, fencing
Olha Kharlan is a proven sabre fencing professional — a six-time World Champion and an eight-time European Champion who also has two individual Olympic bronze medals as well as one gold and one silver in team competitions. That’s impressive! No surprise that the media call her perhaps the most likely winner of the Tokyo Olympics. Can she beat all her main opponents one more time? We won’t be waiting long.
Yaroslava Mahuchikh, athletics (high jump)
Yaroslava Mahuchikh is another representative of Ukraine’s younger sporting generation on the list. Since Yaroslava has won almost everything she could win at the junior level, her aim to bring home a Tokyo Olympic medal has a good reason. Having broken a range of junior and meeting records, she always strives for more. In February 2021, Yaroslava cleared 2.06 m, which is the highest indoor jump since 2012, and had several unsuccessful but very close attempts at even higher marks.
Zhan Beleniuk, Greco-Roman wrestling
Zhan Beleniuk has both World Champion and European Champion titles in his career record — 2 and 3 ones respectively. In Rio 2016, he finished with a silver medal and targets for gold now, as he admits a remaining ‘unfulfilled goal’. In Zhan’s weight category under 85 kg, he seems to be a strong contender for the all-around title at the Tokyo Olympics.
A tough and dramatic Tokyo Olympics competition is ahead! Our team is full of stars and young hopes among Ukrainian athletes. Fingers crossed for all of them to unleash their full potential at the right time.