The Ukrainian Paralympic swimming team stayed in Turkey after the war in Ukraine began. They were supposed to compete there and prepare for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, but it turned out that they would have to stay in Turkey and still do not know what will happen.
Yana Protsenko, a relative of a member of Ukraine's Paralympic team, says her 14-year-old cousin Nikita Dudchenko is in Turkey “Nikita is my husband’s sister’s son and was born premature and has cerebral palsy,” she explained, as quoted by inews “He was given slim chances of survival but was a fighter and survived.
“His left side is affected and he can’t walk properly as he drags his left foot. When he was five, someone suggested swimming would be good for him. “Nikita’s coaches saw potential in him and last year, they decided to train him ready for the Paralympics in Paris 2024.
“Nikita swims with the power in his arms and works really hard”.
It seems that going to Turkey is a tradition of this team, but this time things are completely different “The team goes to Turkey quite often from Ukraine as they have better training facilities,” said Ms Protensko.
“However, on this occasion, while they were out there, the Russian invasion happened and now they can’t go back home”. The family of a 14-year-old boy has mixed emotions. Happiness because their child is safe, but sadness because they are far away from him "Nikita’s family are in deep shock and are terrified,” she said.
“However, they are glad he is not there and is safe. But they are desperate to hug him and don’t know when they can be together again. “The Mayor of Istanbul has generously provided the paralympic team with accommodation and given them transportation so they can go to the swimming pool and continue their training”.