Ukraine’s Yaroslawa Mafchik competes during the women’s high jump qualifying at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday

MeAfter the war began, she took three days to drive out of Ukraine. Champion high jump Yaroslava Mahuchik can only guess how long it will take to return.

On his way out, Mafchik heard gunshots and could sometimes see shells falling miles away. Her hometown, Doniplo, was far from the forefront of the Russian invasion, but it may have been the last time she said goodbye to her mother and father, her grandfather and sister. I couldn’t shake her fear.

“It’s very complicated to say that every city is safe when a war is going on,” Mafchik said.

Four months after a tragic cross-border journey in Serbia, the 20-year-old boy will compete in the world championships in athletics away from the world in Eugene, Oregon.

She likes to easily pass Saturday’s qualifying and win a gold medal on Tuesday. This is because her main rival, three-time world champion Mariya Lasitskene, is Russian and she cannot compete due to the war.

World Athletics President Cebu Ko thinks that the Russians were allowed to confront them here, given the difficulties that the 22 Ukrainians competing in the world have endured only to reach this point. Said that it would be “unthinkable”.

Mafuchiku agrees. In a series of face-to-face interviews with her Associated Press and her email exchanges, she said her relationship with Lasitskene was always heartfelt, but she was never warm. Now it may never be repaired.

“I wrote that she is Russian and cannot compete,” Mafchik said of Lasitskene’s recent open letter, which criticized Kor and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee. “And our people die because they are Ukrainians. I don’t want to see the murderer on the track. Many sportsmen who support this war because it’s really a murderer.”

To a few gymnasts, including Ivan Kuliak, who wore the “Z” symbol to support the war while standing on the medal podium in the recent world, just a short distance from Ukrainian athletes. There is a Russian athlete who was led and supported the war. Cup event. Shortly thereafter, gymnasts stripped the medal from Cleark and suspended him for a year.

Other Russians have promoted peace, including tennis player Daniil Medvedev, who was banned from Wimbledon this year, and Alex Ovechkin, who plays for the Washington Capitals in the NHL.

In her letter, Lasitskene, who won the Olympics last year for the third time in a row, sympathized with the plight of Ukrainian athletes. They “experience something that no one should feel,” she wrote.

She also said that keeping Russians away from sports did not stop the war. “On the contrary, it created something new around and inside the sport that couldn’t be contained.”

What is lacking in Lasitskene’s letter is the work on the Ukrainians themselves, Mafchik said.

“Russia is an invading country that has begun a full-scale invasion of my country,” she said. “Many coaches and athletes went to the Army to protect our country. Some are in hotspots and some are imprisoned or killed. Sports infrastructure in many cities is being destroyed. You cannot train in your home country. ” EDDIE PELLS, Eugene, MDT / AP

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