Angels of Sport: Ukrainian Athletes Killed by Russia

February 16, 2023
The Sports Committee of Ukraine created the project Angels of Sport: a Requiem for Fallen Ukrainian Athletes.

UkraineWorld presents some of them to commemorate all Ukrainian athletes who have been killed by Russian aggression in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

  • Mariupol athlete Oleksandr Suprunov died for Ukraine. He was a multiple-time champion of Ukrainian and international WTKA kickboxing competitions. He fought at Azovstal in Mariupol, where the Ukrainian military mounted a heroic and militarily critical last stand against overwhelming Russian forces. 

  • Oleksandr Onoshko, a Master of Sport in cycling and two-time champion of Ukraine in rowing, was killed in Mariupol. In March 2022, he was wounded in the leg and died from blood loss. 

  • Volodymyr Lavrenyuk was a Master of Sport candidate in sports tourism. Under fierce enemy fire in the settlement of Vesela Dolyna, near Bakhmut, Lavrenyuk gave his life so that 80 of his comrades could fall back to fight another day. 

  • Roman Zakharov was a boxing trainer with 10 years of experience who died during the siege of Mariupol. He was killed while cooking in his yard. 

  • Viktor Tkachuk was putting out a fire in one of Mariupol's high-rise apartment blocks when he was shot by a Russian sniper. Originally from Volyn, he first played in Styr FC, and in 2000 moved to Mariupol, where he began his coaching career. He was a coach at the Azovstal Junior High School. 

  • Maksym Malkov, who was killed at the age of 20, competed in a special multi-discipline aquatic sport called marine all-around. He won medals at Ukrainian championships and international competitions. He was posthumously awarded the Order For Courage III Class and Master of Sport of Ukraine. 

  • Halyna Popovska devoted 40 years to sports, first as an athlete, then a shot put coach. She held the rank of first-class judge in track and field. On September 8, she was killed with her husband in a Russian bombardment of the Zaytseve, Donetsk Oblast.

  • Oleksandr Zakolodny and Hryhoriy Hryhoriev, members of the Kharkiv Alpinists' Club, died fighting the Russian occupiers. Oleksandr was the vice-president of the Ukrainian Mountaineering and Rock Climbing Federation. Hryhoriy Hrygoriev was a Master of Sport candidate 2nd class in mountaineering.

  • Famous athlete and coach Kostyantyn Ahapov was killed in battle defending Ukraine. He was a Master of Sport in combat sambo and an international mixed martial arts champion. 

  • In civilian life, Dmytro Pidopryhora was a successful athlete and coach, earning his  Master of Sport title in bodybuilding. Dmytro died on January 19, 2023 as a result of mortar shelling of his position in Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast. 

  • Maksym Chumak was a Master of Sport of Ukraine in judo and sambo. He had many victories at the national and international level to his name. He served in the defense of his country, and was killed near Svatove when a shell struck the vehicle he was driving in. He will forever be 38. 

These and many other sportsmen can not participate in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games because Russia and Belarus killed them. Why should Russian and Belarusian athletes be able to compete where these Ukrainian athletes will never get the chance?

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.