Sebastian Coe with Nataliia Dobrynska and members of the Ukrainian team in Budapest (© Getty Images)
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has met with members of the Ukrainian team and newly elected World Athletics Council member Nataliya Dobrynska in Budapest to deliver much-needed equipment provided by the Ukraine Fund.
The fund – which was established by World Athletics, together with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) and Members of the Diamond League Association, last year and renewed in May – was created to support elite athletes affected by the conflict in their home country.
Its primary purpose is to ensure that Ukrainian athletes can continue to train, qualify for and participate in World Championship events, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. A team of 29 Ukrainian athletes is currently competing at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
The fund has USD$190,000 available this year to assist the athletes, their immediate family and key support personnel. As well as paying for travel and accommodation for elite athletes at training camps, and for non-quota officials and athletes at World Athletics Series events, support also included purchasing equipment – particularly for the pole vault – to replace items that have been destroyed during missile attacks.
On Thursday (24) Ukraine marks its 32nd anniversary of independence and, meeting with the athletes the day before that anniversary, Coe said: “I am grateful you are here competing at this 40th anniversary of the World Championships.
“I know how hard it has been for you emotionally and physically. I have spoken to many of you since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. And I want you to know that World Athletics will continue to support you as long as you need help.”
The equipment provided includes pole vault poles, as well as mats.
“This year, we have heard your request to provide athletics equipment destroyed by the war, and support for summer camp training and preparation for Budapest,” Coe added. “And this is where we have focused our efforts. We have the poles, and I am delighted they are being used. The mats will follow.
“Thank you, all of you – the athletes, the coaches and the federation – for keeping our sport alive in Ukraine.”
Dobrynska said: “Today, we come together to express our huge gratitude to World Athletics, led by President Sebastian Coe, for being a pillar of support during these challenging times in Ukraine.
“In a world that sometimes feels divided, you remind us of the power of unity. You should know that all of Ukraine appreciates your commitment and involvement in what our athletes are trying to achieve under very difficult circumstances.”
It is expected that up to 100 members of the Ukrainian athletics community may require some financial support this year.
Also on Wednesday, Ukrainian 400m hurdler Anna Ryzhykova, Athlete Refugee Team (ART) member Perina Nakang, ART coach Janeth Jepkosgei and World Athletics ambassador David Rudisha met with refugees families, including those from Ukraine, currently living in Hungary.
The refugee families, who are being assisted by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Hungarian agency Menedek, were provided with tickets to attend Wednesday morning’s session of the World Athletics Championships before meeting with the athletes.
They came together at the WCH Budapest 23 Green Zone, which is hosting sustainability awareness-raising activities and meet & greets with athletes over the course of the championships. Further information on the Green Zone and a schedule of activity can be found here.