Lviv’s Athletes Shoot for Gold in Rio
Lviv’s Athletes Shoot for Gold in Rio
When the world gathers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5th for the 28th Summer Olympic Games, over 10,000 of the world’s finest athletes – representing at least 207 nations – will walk into Brazil’s illustrious Maracana Stadium. Among them will be nearly 200 of Ukraine’s best sportspersons competing in 21 different sports, including – as always – several from Lviv. Ukraine has several serious medal contenders, including Lviv’s-own Yuliya Tkach in women’s freestyle wrestling. But as you’ll discover below, this year’s Leopolitan Olympians are simply the next step in a long and distinguished line of world-class athletes to come out of the city. With 306 sets of medals to be awarded over just 17 days of competition, August is sure to be jam-packed with compelling sporting action. So here’s what you need to know about Lviv and Ukraine at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Lviv’s Proud Olympic Heritage
Lviv has sent over two dozen athletes to the Summer Olympic Games virtually since 1912 – although these talented young men and women have had to compete for five (!) different flags: Austria-Hungary (until the 1912 Stockholm Olympics), Poland (from Antwerp 1920 to Berlin 1936), USSR (from London 1948 to Seoul 1988), for the “Unified Team” of former Soviet states (Barcelona 1992), and finally for Ukraine (since Atlanta 1996). During that time, Lviv has welcomed home many champions – including two of Ukraine’s six gold medals in London 2010: women’s épée fencing champion Yana Shemyakina and heavyweight boxing champion and current WBO intercontinental champion Oleksandr Usyk. Over the years, Leopolitan athletes have excelled in many Olympic disciplines and have medalled in many of them, including: archery, athletics, boxing, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, and wrestling. Some of Ukraine’s finest athletes hail from the Western Ukrainian capital, such as gymnast and professor at Lviv Institute of Physical Culture Victor Chukarin (top athlete at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, 1954 world champion, and 11-time Olympic medallist) and long jumper Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (5-time Olympian, 2-time Olympic medallist, with the world’s best jump in 4 different years), and Dynamo Lviv’s fencer Shemyakina (2-time Olympian, 2012 Olympic champion, and 2005 European Champion). But there are plenty of Leopolitans looking to join that list this summer in Rio.
Lviv at Rio 2016
Perhaps Lviv’s best chance to see a home-grown Olympic champion in Rio this summer is in the woman’s wrestling competition, where Lviv will feature three athletes: Yulia Tkach, Alla Cherkasova, and Julia Havaldzhy. Tkach, the 2014 world champion in the 63 kg division, is the favourite going into the competition and remains Lviv’s brightest hope for an Olympic champion. Archer Veronika Marchenko might have something to say about that, as she has had a superb season capped by a QF run at the world championships. Ukraine will be solid in fencing this year as well, and Lviv will be sending three athletes with them – Ksenia Panteleeva, Anfisa Pochkalova, and Jana Shmyakina – hoping to repeat Shemyakina’s success in London 2012. Lviv has also become the Ukrainian hotbed of shooting, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a champion come out of Oleg Tsarkov, Roman Bondaruk, or Pavlo Korostylov. Bondaruk, who trains at Dynamo Lviv, finished 12th in London but claimed gold at the European championships in 2013. Other athletes to watch include Andriy Fedechko in the modern pentathlon and Anastasia Wozniak in gymnamstics.
Ukraine at Rio 2016
Of course, there are plenty more Ukrainian athletes headed to the first-ever Olympics in South America than just those from Lviv. Among the nearly 200 world class athletes that the country plans to send, a dozen or so are bona fide contenders to return home as Olympic champions. Joining Tkach and the fencing team in the field of “favourites” to win gold are: Donetsk gymnast Oleg Vernyayev, the Ukrainian synchronised swimming tandem of Anna Voloshyna and Lolita Ananasova, and Kharkiv’s phenomenal high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko. Bondareko has cleared 2.42 metres – only two jumps in history have been higher! Over the 17 days in Rio, there will be plenty of thrilling competitions and compelling storylines. Can Ukraine beat their 1996 haul of 9 gold medals? Will Bondarenko make history by setting a world record? How will the Leopolitan athletes perform? Find out all this and more by tuning into the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in August.