Ukraine ranks 11th at the Beijing Olympics

Ukraine ranks 11th at the Beijing Olympics 

This year’s 29th Olympic Games in China brought Ukraine unexpected success: we won a record 27 medals instead of the projected 14 and ranked 11th, occupying 10th place until the final days of the games. These excellent results mean that our athletes are true heroes, who have brought great honor to Ukraine.

But once the euphoria abated, it became clear that the 2008 Olympics had exposed a number of problems in Ukrainian sports, such as lack of training facilities, insufficient funding, outdated sports equipment, and the lack of professional coaches, to name a few. In point of fact, our athletes compete and win thanks to enthusiasm alone.

What pluses and minuses of the Beijing Olympics should Ukraine take into account? How can we ensure that sports will be a prestigious profession not just during the Olympic Games? The Day‘s reporter addressed these and other questions to Serhii MISH­CHENKO, president of the Uk­rai­nian Fencing Federation.

Ukraine’s national team ranked high at this year’s Olympics. On the one hand, this is an honor, but on the other, our wins revealed a host of problems. What lessons should Ukraine draw from the Olympics?

“Ukraine achieved excellent results. First of all, our athletes demonstrated their prowess. Frankly, nobody was expecting such a high ranking. We would have been happy even if Ukraine were among the top 20

But the games surpassed our expectations. On the other hand, we should remember that Ukraine will have to maintain this high standing at the next Olympics. If we don’t address the problems that are afflicting sports now, if we don’t create a state-sponsored program and invest in it, no one will hand us the same results at the next Olympics and we won’t be able to achieve them.

“What helped Ukraine win a record number of medals this year is the fact that the best results were achieved by the very athletes who were not expected to do so. High results were achieved mostly in those sports where individual prowess and moral and psychological conditioning are very important. The situation was the exact opposite with the athletes who were expected to win based on their previous results. The point is that many sports that had been neglected and not considered top priority showed high results. Maybe this happened because the athletes trained calmly, without being reminded that they have to win and bring home a prestigious medal. If an athlete enters a competition knowing that he is expected only to win, this creates a lot of pressure. It is very difficult to compete in conditions like this. ”

Ukraine’s first gold medal was won by the women’s saber fencing team, consisting of Olha Kharlan, Olena Khomrova, Olha Zhovnir, and Halyna Pundyk. Did their coaches expect them to win?

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