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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One month to go to Donetsk 2013 - Ukraine’s proud athletics history

Monaco – With exactly one calendar month to go before Donetsk, Ukraine stages the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships, from 10-14 July, this is the perfect moment to look back at the immense contribution athletes from this country have made to the sport. Although it is the first time that a city from Ukraine has been the host of an IAAF World Athletics Series event, the country having become independent in 1991, Ukraine athletics success stretches back a century. Kiev staged the First All-Russian Olympiad in August 1913, with participants coming from all over what was the then Russian Empire but, in many of the athletics events, it was local athletes who shone. Ever since then, Ukraine has continued to assemble an impressive array of athletics heroes. Arguably the most notable of them all is Sergey Bubka, nowadays an IAAF Vice President but considered by most people to have few rivals as the greatest exponent in his event, the Pole Vault. Bubka won at the IAAF World Championships on six occasions and took the gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games. He also broke the outdoor World record 17 times, including setting the current mark of 6.14m in 1994 and the indoor World record on 18 occasions. Alongside Bubka in the IAAF Hall of Fame, which sees Ukraine as the only country apart from the United States to have more than one member of the initial 24 stars of our sport that were inducted last year, is walker Vladimir Golubnichiy. In more recent times, Nataliya Dobrynska has become the heroine of Ukraine athletics, winning the 2008 Olympic Games Heptathlon and then returning to the top of the podium last year at the IAAF World Indoor Championships where she won the Pentathlon title with a World indoor record. With such a roll call of illustrious names, Ukraine can quite rightly claim to have a special place in the history of athletics and this is an opportune moment to bring a major global event to the sport’s many aficionados in the country.