Ukraine’s Beijing Olympic Successes
Ukraine hit the Beijing Olympics in full swing, as almost four hundred representatives settled themselves in for the most prestigious event in the world. Of the great number of members who came to Beijing, approximately two hundred and fifty are competing athletes. Ukraine came to the Beijing Olympics determined to win medals, and so far they have done reasonably well.
In 1996, Ukraine attended the Olympic Games as an independent nation for the first time, and immediately showed their potential by taking home twenty-three medals in 1996, another twenty- three in 2000 and again in 2004. This year they are back and can be seen in events such as track, cycling, sailing, tennis, equestrian, canoeing, gymnastics, diving, rowing and tennis.
To date, athletes representing Ukraine have received one gold medal and four bronze, and with so many events still lying ahead, they seem focused on increasing those numbers. They found success in the women’s sabre competition, wrestling, weightlifting, diving and judo, demonstrating their ability to excel in numerous disciplines.
The first gold medal for Ukraine was won by the women’s fencing team, when they defeated China 45 – 44 in a thrilling and nail-biting final. As the final fencers, Olga Kharlan for Ukraine and Tan Xue for China stepped onto the piste, China was leading with 40 points to 36. The win did not come easy, as some confusion occurred at the end, when both fencers were under the impression they had landed the winning touch, only to realize that the score was equal and they had to step back onto the piste, where Olga Kharlan ensured that she delivered an unquestionable winning touch.
The four bronze medals were won by Armen Vardanyan in the 60 – 66 kg wrestling division, Natalya Davydova in the 69 kg women’s weightlifting division, Roman Gontiuk in the Judo men’s 73 – 81 kg division and in the men’s synchronized 3m springboard event, Illya Kvasha and Oleksiy Prygorov secured the bronze. Ukraine has done well in their events so far, and the remaining athletes are hoping to also bring home a medal in their respective sporting events.