World Championships: Mykhailo Romanchuk Pleads To Maintain Ban On Russia As Father Fights In Eastern Ukraine

ROMANCHUK Mykhailo UKR Bronze Medal 800m Freestyle Men Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 21/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Mykhailo Romanchuk: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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Ukrainian Mykhailo Romanchuk Pleads To Maintain Ban On Russia As Father Fights In Eastern Ukraine

Mykhailo Romanchuk made an impassioned plea to sports organisations around the world to maintain the ban on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

The two-time Olympic medalist was born in Rivne, a town in western Ukraine, and the ongoing war has had a direct impact on Romanchuk, with his father fighting against the Russians in the east of the country.

Speaking after winning bronze in the 800 free at the World Championships, the 25-year-old warned against any kind of leniency or relaxing of the suspension of Russia.

Not only because of the murderous aggression of Vladimir Putin but also because Romanchuk couldn’t predict how he would respond if he was to be confronted by Russians.

He pointed specifically at two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov who was pictured at a Vladimir Putin rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in March wearing the pro-war symbol of the letter ‘Z’ on his clothing.

He said:

“If someone says sport is not politics, sport is the biggest politics.

“Unfortunately it is true – this is the right decision that the Russians are not here because if I saw some of the Russian guys, I don’t know how I will react to them.

“I don’t know: my reaction, maybe it would be aggressive, I don’t know, especially when the backstroke guy (Evgeny Rylov) joined the (Putin rally).

“Inside of me I was ready to go and to kill him but before he was a good friend but everything changed.”

Family On The Frontline

Celebrating Gold Medal ROMANCHUK Mykhaylo UKR 800m Freestyle Men Final Swimming Budapest - Hungary 22/5/2021 Duna Arena XXXV LEN European Aquatic Championships Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Romanchuk will see his parents for the first time in four months in a few days’ time when they come to the global meet in Budapest, the three-time world medalist thanking FINA president Husain Al Musallam for arranging their passage to Hungary.

That’s in stark contrast to his father being on the frontline where danger lurks all around.

“He is at a hot point and it is a hard time.

“I have a connection with him maybe once a day; in the morning he writes me that everything is good because I cannot talk with him because it is not possible for them to join the network because you understand the Russians can search everything.”

Romanchuk Considers Joining Resistance

While his father is actively involved in repelling the Russian invasion, joining the Ukrainian resistance was also something that Romanchuk considered.

He said:

“In the beginning when everything started, since 24 February, I was at a training camp and then I go back to my home.

“My mind was to go to the war to defend my home and then in 10 days I had a lot of discussions with my family, with my wife, we decide that…

“I could do nothing with a gun so for me it’s better to continue training so to do everything what I am doing the best.

“So it’s swimming, to swim fast, and to show what I can do, and with my swimming I can tell all the world what is the situation in Ukraine.

“I will tell more and more but now all the work is forget a little bit about the war but the war is not finished, it continues and it is getting harder and harder because it is all the time.

“And they destroy all our cities, and they destroy more than seven pools in Ukraine and they destroy more than 50 stadiums of track and field, they destroy a lot of sports facilities and more than 10 sportsmen have died during the war. I don’t know how many coaches have died.”

Wellbrock Reaches Out

FINKE Bobby USA Gold Medal, WELLBROCK Florian GER Silver Medal, ROMANCHUK Mykhailo UKR Bronze Medal 800m Freestyle Men Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 21/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Florian Wellbrock, Bobby Finke, Mykhailo Romanchuk: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Olympic 10k champion Florian Wellbrock reached out to Romanchuk and invited him to join his training group in Magdeburg, Germany.

He accepted and moved away from Ukraine but there were some difficult times at times as he learned to adapt while war was ongoing at home.

“It is hard especially at the beginning when I moved to Germany to join the group. It was hard because mentally you are in the war and you are sleeping just three or four hours because you are always reading the news.

“But then you understand that everything you can do is to swim, to train, to represent your country and it’s still hard because everything – all the time you are reading the news.”

Medal Symbolises Ukrainian Strength

Romanchuk led with 50m to go at the Duna Arena before Bobby Finke went to head of the field and Wellbrock took second.

For Romanchuk, the medal signified the Ukrainians’ strength in battle, saying:

“I hope this medal means a lot for Ukrainians because of the hard times and I show to all Ukrainians, to all people, that Ukrainians will fight to the end.

“It doesn’t matter what the situation we will fight to the end and it doesn’t matter what will happen next.

“I am so proud of all the people in Ukraine. I am proud of the people, the government, the president – I am so proud of them. I am really happy to be Ukrainian.”

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Mousambani
2 days ago

Your words are great, me and all the people i love supoort ukrania against the invasion. Putin is a war criminal and also the ones who support the agression. Peace is to come

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z.z.z.z.z.z.z.
20 hours ago

He would attack Evgeny Rylov just because he is russian. Great sportsmenship from him…

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Andreas Ng
16 hours ago
Reply to  z.z.z.z.z.z.z.

No! Because Rylov was at Putin’s propaganda Pro-war big gathering! z zzzz is fallen at sleep at the wheel for u!

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