War in Donbas

The Games of Heroes lets amputee veterans participate in competitive Crossfit events. The program pushes the participants to their limits; and yet, the veterans are unrelenting in their determination.

Yevheniy Koval organized The Games of Heroes a year ago. He envisioned a project that would let amputee veterans participate in competitive Crossfit events.

“Game of Heroes is a project. This project is rehabilitation for adaptive sportsmen, adaptive people, adaptive soldiers who have been disabled in the war,” says Yevheniy Koval, Leader of Games of Heroes Project.

The Games of Heroes involves multiple events, including kettlebell lifting, rowing, and gymnastics. The program pushes the participants to their limits; and yet, the veterans are unrelenting in their determination.

“Crossfit is, like, many healthy people say that this is only for insane people, in the good sense of the word, because it is a multi-sports approach. We have to decide what they can do right on the spot, to decide how to decrease the amplitude or things like that. It’s also difficult for us because an ordinary sportsman must be encouraged, motivation must be created, these guys have insane motivation, they, on the other hand, must be held back or stopped,” tells Valentin Lytvynchuk, Crossfit Trainer.

23-year-old Yuri was a fresh college graduate in Poltava when the war in eastern Ukraine began in 2014. His story — the reason he volunteered to fight — is common enough: love for his country and a belief in its sovereignty. In 2016, he lost his left leg to a land mine, but not his spirit to fight. He just changed his focus:

“I started training when I was in hospital. It was about a year ago. It was my rehabilitation. I noticed that I became stronger after training. I can run, walk, jump. So I do sports 4 or 5 times a week.”

He’s one of many veterans with the same spirit. Last year, there were 5 games in cities across Ukraine with almost 80 competitors. A group will now travel to Brussels to present to the NATO delegates.

“The purpose of our visit is, as I see it, all the same: to remind the world and the NATO bloc that there is a war in Ukraine. The second is that there are consequences to this war. There are young wounded guys. And, the third, is that this is a courageous nation that not only hasn’t been broken, but also still struggles and fights at the same level as people without disabilities,” explains Volodymyr Bulba, Adviser to Ministry of Ukraine Youth and Sports.

Now, Games of Heroes is only held in Georgia, Australia, and Ukraine. Yevheniy hopes to change that. And soon.

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