June 16, 2024


Day With badminton

‘I try to fight here for my country’: Ukrainian badminton star makes ‘crazy’ journey to reach All England Open

3 min read

From the sound of air raid sirens to ripples of polite applause, Ukrainian Maria Ulitina took her country’s battle to a badminton court in Birmingham.

Ulitina was a shock late entry to the All England Open up, one of the to start with Ukrainian athletes to enter Britain and contend given that the Russian invasion of her state.

There was additional than a trace of the surreal as the Olympian – who has viewed points that no human staying should really have to – slipped out in the very first round at Arena Birmingham.

“I am genuinely happy to represent my nation in this kind of hard instances,” stated Ulitina. “The journey to get right here has been nuts.

“It was hard to command my emotions due to the fact I have this stressing emotion inside of, all the time. We’re generally hearing information and preserving in touch, so it can be hard.

“Men and women want to listen to some positives. When people are battling there, I try to battle here for the state.”

Ulitina is from Dnipro in the east of Ukraine, a city targeted by air strikes for the initially time very last 7 days.

Quite a few best Ukrainian badminton gamers ended up in Uganda at an worldwide tournament when war broke out, but Ulitina was a single of these at dwelling.

She near to flee Dnipro and the 30-12 months-previous, who has just recovered from Covid, still left her relatives, friends and country guiding for refuge at a badminton club in Pécs, Hungary.

With bare critical possessions she drove for four times straight, masking 1000km to the border with her cell phone pinging with news of the safety of her nearest and dearest.

“I wanted to continue to be at house with my nation, with my people today,” she described, “but I couldn’t do considerably by remaining there.

“The very best I could do was go and do my job and perform to characterize the county. That was the major thing.”

Most of Ulitina’s spouse and children have fled Ukraine but her brother remains, with only gals and kids allowed to depart the place at this time, as very well as lots of pals.

“They are in my heart, all of the time,” she reported.

“My brother is in just one of the safest elements of Ukraine but they are dropping bombs on the airports and I just hope it would not take place like it did, in towns like Mariupol, where by they are killing civilian persons, females and little ones.

“It is serious. No person could consider this would materialize in the 21st century.”

The earth No.58 was seventh reserve in the singles draw but drafted in at the last moment on a visa waiver, only landing in the West Midlands at 9pm on Tuesday evening.

12 several hours later on she was plonked on courtroom and faced China’s globe No.9 He Bing Jiao, falling to large defeat. She lost 21-8, 21-6 and her campaign was over in just 19 minutes.

“I was not practising that a great deal for the reason that of the war and I would be a ton happier if I could show a far better recreation currently,” she reported.

Ulitina will now return to Hungary but her quick future is uncertain. Badminton Europe have presented a quantity of destinations to young Ukranian gamers at their Centre of Excellence in Denmark.

Ulitina held her composure through article-match interviews but emotion seeped into her voice as she utilized her platform to deal with the planet.

“This is a authentic war and we need to have to quit it,” she claimed. “Halt war and you should, remember to, near the sky. This is what we have to have.”

We welcome supporters back to the YONEX All England Open up Badminton Championships this 12 months. Now we want to welcome you again onto courtroom. For much more data and to discover a court around you, pay a visit to The Time Is Now | Badminton England

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