The Ukrainian Athletic Association has been awarded the President’s Award as part of the World Athletics Awards 2022.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe presented Ukrainian Athletic Association President Yevhen Pronin with the award on Wednesday (30) at the World Athletics Council Meeting in Rome.
“I couldn’t think of anyone worthier than this for this year’s award,” said Coe. “What the Ukrainian Athletics Federation President, the coaches, and the athletes have done is just worthy of everyone’s respect and recognition.”
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the majority of Ukraine’s elite athletes were unable to continue training, let alone competing. But the country’s athletes showed remarkable resilience and made the most of any support that came their way – including the Ukraine Relief Fund, which was launched in April by World Athletics, the International Athletics Foundation and the Diamond League Association.
Ukraine’s elite athletes were then able to find alternative training locations in Europe and the rest of the world, and were ultimately able to compete at this year’s major international events. Among their many medal successes in 2022, Yaroslava Mahuchikh took high jump gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, while Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk won the European triple jump title.
“Our country and our federation are currently at the most difficult stage in our history,” said Pronin. “However, we understand that sport should not only live, it should develop. It’s difficult to develop, but we have planned at least five sports festivals in Ukraine in December. Most of our athletes are based in other parts of Europe at the moment, and we’d like to thank World Athletics and European Athletics for helping us. Things are still difficult but we know our target and we know how to achieve it.
“Earlier this year our federation had a virtual board meeting and we decided that we wouldn’t take part in international competitions in 2022 because we didn’t know how our athletes and coaches would be able to travel,” explained Pronin. “But I then thought about it some more and after three days I felt like our athletes must represent Ukraine across the world, so I went back to our board and asked them to change our decision.
“In every championships this year, our athletes have competed for medals, we have shown our flag, and we have heard our national anthem,” he added. “But just as importantly, it has given people from our country an opportunity to talk to international media to let them know what is happening back in Ukraine.”
Coe said that he could think of no one more deserving of this year’s award than the Ukrainian federation and its athletes.
“For the resistance and fortitude that your athletes have shown – supported by you, your federation and your coaches – that is why I felt absolutely impelled to present this year’s President’s Award to you and your federation,” said Coe.
“It’s not just the federation; it’s the coaches, the administrators, and the support you had at a governmental level. Really this award is for all of you, but particularly for you, Yevhenii, for the extraordinary effort you’ve made to primarily keep the athletes in competition and in training. It has been one of the greatest contributions that anyone has made to our sport in a very long time.”
The President’s Award, first awarded in 2016, recognises and honours exceptional service to athletics. Past winners of the award include British journalist Vikki Orvice, Swiss meeting director Andreas Brugger, Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt and Kenyan distance great Tegla Loroupe.