International Gymnast Online interview
The 18-year-old Kovtun, who finished 11th all-around at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and third all-around at last fall’s World Championships in Kitakyushu, has maintained his composure on and off the apparatus since the invasion of his homeland began February 24. …
IGO: Congratulations on your gold and silver medals in Cottbus, and your gold, silver and bronze medals in Doha. Given the situation in your country, how did you manage to maintain your focus to perform so strongly in those finals?
IK: Thanks a lot, I’m very pleased. I tried and fought to the bitter end. My family and my coach (Irina Nadyuk) support me. We are all walking the same path together. I was scared for my people, for our freedom, for relatives and friends, but the coach and my parents set me up and helped me to go through the competition proudly for our people and represent our country with dignity.
IGO: What is the situation like for your family in Ukraine right now? How they are living and managing to survive?
IK: Our families live in fear and hear air raid sirens all the time …
IGO: What can people do to help Ukrainians, and especially Ukrainian gymnasts and their coaches?
IK: Almost the whole world is helping Ukrainians, both financially and morally. Many countries are taking our families to their homes and helping them in society. Gymnastics clubs in different countries are ready to accept our gymnasts with their families, and provide accommodation, meals and a place to practice. …Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun: ‘God is with us and the truth is on our side’