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Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

Olena PavlovaNews
After biathlon, Nina Lemesh is building a political career

The winner of the World and European Championships and former captain of the Ukrainian women's biathlon team, Nina Lemesh, is building a very successful political career after finishing her sports career. The participant of three Olympics served as Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine during Vadym Hutzayt's term, and now she is the head of the NOC in Chernihiv region and the first deputy head of the Chernihiv Regional Council.

OBOZ.UA decided to recall how the famous biathlete came to the government offices.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

The future athlete was born in the small village of Noselivka in Chernihiv Oblast. While studying at school, she took up skiing, then entered the Franko Pedagogical College in Pryluky, where she first showed herself as a promising athlete.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

In 1995, while studying at the Chernihiv Shevchenko University, Nina joined the Ukrainian national biathlon team and in her first year of competing for the national team, she climbed to the international podium, winning silver medals at the European Championships in the individual race and relay.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

A year later, as part of the Ukrainian relay team, Lemesh, in the company of Tetiana Vodopianova, Olena Petrova, and Olena Zubrylova, won the first award of the World Championships - silver in the team race. Only the Germans Catherine Apel and the legendary Usha Diesl were better. And behind them was France with Corinne Niogre.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

Lemesh defended the colors of the Ukrainian national team for 12 years, even serving as its captain. In 2000 and 2001, she became a bronze medalist in the relay race at the World Championships. She also won twice with the team at the World Cup and once in an individual race. In 1998, the Ukrainian won the sprint in Antholz-Anterselva ahead of the Russian Ishmuratova and the incredible Swede Magdalena Forsberg.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

In 2006, Lemesh became the European champion for the first time, winning gold in the sprint, competed in her third Olympics, and the following year she ended her professional career. After that, she began to take an active part in the activities of the NOC of Ukraine, and since November 2013 she has held the position of executive secretary of the Chernihiv branch.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

Lemesh also tried her hand at television: from 2010 to 2011, she worked as a commentator for biathlon competitions on the Sport-1 channel. However, as it turned out, she was much more interested in administrative and political activities.

In 2015, the former biathlete headed the Department of Family, Youth and Sports of the Chernihiv Regional State Administration. But on March 3, 2020, she wrote a letter of resignation. According to media reports, this was preceded by a conflict with the leadership of the Chernihiv Regional State Administration. However, Nina did not remain unemployed for long: in April 2020, she was appointed Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports to Vadym Hutzayt.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

"As a deputy, I will be in charge of Olympic sports of the highest achievements. Everything related to this area: the work of regular national teams and children's and youth sports schools, reserve sports, children's and youth regular teams, national teams, preparation and participation in the Olympic Games, Youth Olympics, World and European Championships," Lemesh said.

However, the biathlete's career in the ministry was short-lived. In December 2020, Lemesh was elected to the Chernihiv Regional Council from the Ridnyi Dim faction and became the first deputy chair of the regional council, and had to give up her seat in the ministry to Nina Umanets.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

"If I understand sports perfectly well, I can't say that I understand all politics as deeply today. I ask myself a lot of questions and not all of them can be answered for sure. In three years I will know everything perfectly! In sports, I knew how to shoot straight to the bull's eye. And now I'm going to take longer to aim to hit the top ten," Lemesh said in January 2021.

During the full-scale invasion of Russia in 2022, the former athlete stayed in Chernihiv, which was besieged by Russian occupiers, finding and delivering basic necessities, food, and medicine to people. For this, she received a medal for the defense of her hometown and the title of Woman of the Year in Chernihiv region.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

"Courageous, fragile, wise, strong-willed, determined... She was not afraid! She didn't run away from Chernihiv like her notorious colleague! From the first days of the full-scale invasion, she organized people from among fellow athletes and patriots of Ukraine around her," wrote her teammate, Olympic medalist Valentyna Tserbe-Nesina.

And in December 2022, Lemesh became the head of the regional NOC and promised to restore the region's infrastructure, which was destroyed by Russia, including a well-known ski resort.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

Together with her husband Volodymyr, Nina has two children. Anastasia is 21 years old. Before the full-scale war, she studied at the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, and now she continues to study abroad.

The younger Artem chose boxing, although his mother would have liked him to choose biathlon, as she could have helped and advised him. According to Lemesh's family, in the first months of the full-scale invasion, the 14-year-old volunteered alongside adults. And the husband of the famous athlete and MP has the status of an ATO participant and is now in the Armed Forces.

Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed
Famous Ukrainian biathlete went into politics: how the world championships medalist who withstood the siege of Russians in Chernihiv has changed

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