"They miraculously survived, but their daughter's legs were cut": Olympic medalist spoke about the shelling of Kharkiv and "equal" conditions with Russians
On January 2, while the Russian invaders were destroying Kharkiv with missiles, the Ukrainian national artistic swimming team was supposed to hold its first training session of the new year, but according to world champion and Olympic medalist Marta Fedina, she and her team first sat in the shelter of the pool. And then the best synchronized swimmer in Europe in 2022 went to help her friends who miraculously survived the missile hit but were left homeless.
In a conversation with OBOZ.UA, Fedina spoke about the attack on her hometown, the ruined training and the affected family. She also admitted what she thinks about the admission of "neutral" representatives of the Russian Federation to the 2024 Summer Olympics and equal conditions for everyone.
- The first training session went well, but we were released early today because of what happened. And it's understandable. And you know, at that moment I thought that they allow Russia to compete, although not in all kinds of sports, but they still talk about some kind of equal conditions... Even if we don't talk about life outside of sports, about how many people today have lost their homes and just everything else, we simply don't have the same time to train.
And it's not our fault because we just prepare less than they do. We just don't have the opportunity to train. We don't have equal conditions for training now. Not to mention our morale and so on. We started a new year, but our neighbors are still the same.
- So you even managed to go to training today before the alarm and massive shelling of Kharkiv began?
- Yes, I did. I woke up and saw what was happening in Kyiv. In Kharkiv, it was still calm. Then, as soon as I drove up to the pool, it began. And we have a windowless shelter there, so we stayed there for a while and started to warm up, saying, "We're already there anyway, so why just sit there? And then, when the alarms went off, we went for water training.
But still, everyone had such a low moral state... Then our head coach came and said, "Let's finish the training today and then work out," adding, "I can see how you feel and now we can't work normally. It would just make no sense."
- On your Instagram, you posted a video of a house that was damaged by shelling.
- Our family friend lives in this house. And his wife and daughter were there at that very moment. I just don't know what a miracle it was that they survived and were not seriously injured. Only the daughter's legs were slightly cut, but her limbs wew intact.
Thank God they are alive, but they are left without a home, just without everything. I went to visit them after training. And since the shelling happened in the morning, around half past eight, my friend's wife was still wearing pajama pants, socks, slippers and a jacket that someone must have given her. Their apartment does not exist anymore, and there is nothing nearby, everything is in glass.
- I think that after this, many people wonder how you live and train in Kharkiv at all. After all, the Russians are constantly shelling the city because of its proximity to the border. It seems that Kyiv, where you have been training for a long time, is better protected thanks to air defense systems.
- You know, athletes train all over the country, not just in Kyiv. And now there are no safe places in Ukraine at all. Where can we train safely? And going abroad, I think, is much more difficult.
Kharkiv, you know, is our home. It was great in Kyiv, but it's still better at home because we have our pool and our family. It seems to me that it's better for us to prepare here. As for security, nowhere will be safe. Even though Kyiv has air defense, we have seen so much debris falling on the city. I mean, it's not particularly comforting. Of course, I understand that without air defense there would have been much more destruction, but the danger remains.
- In late December, the Russian occupiers heavily shelled Kharkiv. How did you prepare for the New Year in such conditions?
- To be honest, there was no festive mood, of course. Before that, on December 30, the Russians also attacked the city center and the Kharkiv Palace Hotel. The weather was also kind of spring-like: seven degrees Celsius. In addition, there are no official holidays in our country now, and we gathered in a close circle of family and friends, almost all of whom are doctors, and they had to go to work on January 1.
And we have a close friend who is currently at war. It was the first time we celebrated without him, and he's always so positive, funny, and likes to joke. He was very happy that we got together and asked us to send him photos. But I understand that the guys on the front line listen to everything we hear during the shelling every 5-10 minutes.
We have to be strong, hold on, and in no way show that it's hard for us because the guys and girls who are protecting us don't need these tears. We didn't even have a chance to call our friend because he and his comrades were about to go on a mission.
- Russian occupants brutally shelled Kharkiv on December 30 and today. The whole world already knows about it. You also talked about it in your social media stories. Does the sports community react in any way? Are there any specific athletes?
- Honestly? Not at all. No one has written anything. I don't even see the point of writing about it in English anymore. Anyway, when they see it, they just scroll on, and that's it. Besides, Instagram has a feature that translates into your language. And even if they read something, they didn't write me anything. Not a single person.
- In early February, you and your team will take part in the World Cup. Do you plan to train in Kharkiv all the time before it?
- Until the 15th, and then just two weeks before the competition, we go to a training camp abroad. And from there we will go to the World Cup in Doha.
- Russia won't be there yet, will it?
- No, no, although Qatar itself has nothing against them.
- At least there is some solidarity with Ukraine here, since the IOC allowed the Russians to compete in the 2024 Olympics.
- It just doesn't make sense to me how, after almost every day of suffering from this horror because of Russian aggression, Russian athletes are still allowed to participate in the Olympics. Okay, not all of them, but still: how can we even talk about this?
I think that this should never be allowed to happen again, and here they are talking about this year... They were talking about 2030, 2028... They even allow it to happen in 2024. This is at a time when we, Ukrainians, still have to survive to get to this Olympics.