Interview by Maxim Sidorenko.
On February 24th, Russian Federation started an unprovoked and crime war against Ukraine. Thousand of Ukrainian civilians were killed in Ukrainian cities Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol and others.
Polina Buhrova, 18 years old badminton player, the National Champion of Ukraine in the women's singles category, one of the most promising European young players, has lived in Kharkiv before the war started. Kharkiv, which is just 30 kilometres from the Russian border, is heavily shelled from the very first day. On the first day of the war, Polina and her Kharkiv Badminton Sports Club teammates were in another Ukrainian city, Dnipro.
Having no chance to return to the war-torn region, Polina and many of her teammates, young badminton players and coaches, had to flee from Ukraine.
Poland, Romania, Hungary and many other EU countries have hosted more than 4 million Ukrainians. Polina has found her new temporary home in the Czech Republic, where she has a chance to train and get ready for the new tournaments.
We talked to Polina the day before her debute at the European Championships, where Polina had to play against the number 2 seed from Denmark, Mia Bliechfeldt.
Polina, thank you for agreeing to share your experience. Our first question: how was your first day of war? How have you become aware that Russia started the war?
That day, we were in Dnipro city. I mean our team that took part in the National Cup of Ukraine. I took some rest before the next day. I was sleeping when our coach entered the room in the early morning and told us: “Girls, wake up! Go to the shelter! The war has started!”.
That’s a terrible feeling… I can’t even describe what you feel when you hear such words.
Your native city, Kharkiv, has been heavily bombed since the first day of the war. We hope that your parents and loved people are alive…
Thank God my parents and friends are safe now if there is a safe place in Ukraine. Some have moved from the city, and some stay in Kharkiv. I try to keep in touch with everyone about how far it is possible because of alarms and curfews. I pray for everyone who stays now in Ukraine and hope to see them very soon.
Today, you have a chance to train. How was it to take the decision and leave Ukraine?
The most difficult decision was to leave Dnipro city. We were hosted there so warmly. But, after the Russian invasion started, we had received no positive news at all. It was “hotter” every day. So, we dared to make a decision and leave the city.
It took us a few days to get to the border. We stopped in some small towns, and with every new city, I understood that there was no certainty when we could see our loved people. It was the most difficult part of the road to the border. It is difficult to put the pain and sadness we all felt in words.
Now, I am in Chezh Republic. People here are so hostile. They treat us so well! We have everything we need to live and train.
It took me some time to get back to my training. Now, I am focused and keep going toward my goals. I have even more motivation to bring gold medals to my country. That’s because our Ukrainian people, who are so amazing, I feel their support; they backup and give strength to go further!
What is your next tournament? Can you please tell me a bit more about your plans for the future?
It is not an easy thing to create long term plans now. So, I try to focus on the upcoming 3-4 months. I’ll take part in a few tournaments in Asia.
I would also love to win the U-19 Championship this year and bring a gold medal (not even one) to Ukraine. That’s my goal.
Also, I’ll participate in EU Championships in Madrid. The tournament will start on April 26th.
What do you think about your chances at EU Championships? Will Polina become the Champion?
It would be great. At least, I hope so and will work hard and not give up on achieving it someday.
On April 26th, Polina Buhrova met on court with the second seed from Denmark, Mia Blichfeldt. Unfortunatly, young Ukrainian lost in 2 straight games. But, we are sure that all victories are just ahead!
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