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Specialized College of Sports in Dnipro, the consequences ofshelling. Photo by IOM.

High jump athlete Yaroslava Mahuchikh, hammer thrower Mykhailo Kohan, track and field athlete Anna Ryzhikova, and swimmer Denys Kesil will represent Ukraine at the Olympic Games in France this year. All of them are stars in the world of sports and  graduates of the Dnipro Specialized College of Sports. This college trains future Olympian champions. Through daily rigorous training, young athletes master their skills in judo, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, athletics, football, etc. 

On 2 Aprilthis year, two Russian rockets exploded near the college. At the time, several hundred children were inside the building. 

“I saw my boys and girls being taken away by an ambulance... Four of my students were there. They were injured by glass shattered by a blast wave when they ran to the bomb shelter,” said Heorhii  Gavrysh, a judo teacher.  

The shelling damaged the college, breaking windows and doors, and destroying classrooms and the canteen. Children’s clothes, sports equipment, and tablets used for studying were also destroyed. Among the affected students were those who are internally displaced.  

“Psychologists work with the children if needed. I also try to support my students based on their needs. They haven’t lost the desire to continue training and achieve new victories,” added Heorhii. 

The destroyed canteen and the room where the children lived. Photo by IOM

Heorhii’s student Daria Dolia was among the injured. A week and a half later, she was planning to compete in judo at the European Cup in Poland. The 18-year-old athlete went to a competition right after leaving hospital. She represented Ukraine with fresh scars on her body. Despite not winning a prize, Daria retained her determination to continue in sports. On 2 May, she competed in the Judo Cup of Ukraine in the under 21 age category and won second place. 

Two more athletes, Albina Musienko and Viktoria Pauchenko, were also injured. After their physical recovery, they won third place at a recent All-Ukraine judo tournament. 

Despite the damage, the college is currently operating. IOM has supported the affected students by providing casual and sports clothes, and tablets for learning. This assistance was made possible through private donations to IOM programmes for war affected people in Ukraine. 

Tablets provided by IOM. Photo by IOM