News Society, 03/03/2020

Fourth Heroes’ Games Bring War Veterans Together

On March 1, the Heroes’ Games CrossFit competition for Russian-Ukrainian war veterans was held in the YOD sports club. The event takes place in Kharkiv for the fourth time.

According to Olena Rofe-Beketova, the director of the “Kharkiv with You” charitable foundation and event organizer, 19 athletes from 15 Ukrainian cities took part in the competitions among war veterans who lost their limbs. Four more veterans are adaptive athletes, they are former action participants, and now they are judges and the hostess of the event. This year, the greatest number of veterans in the Games’ history participated in the sports event thanks to the initiative of the project’s initiator, Kharkivite Oleksandr Honcharov.

“The participants competed in two categories: ‘Debutant Athletes’ and ‘Professional Athletes.’ Hennady Kernychny from the Khmelnytskyi region was the first among debutants and Roman Kashpur from Khmilnyk, the Vinnytsia region, won in the competition among professionals. Notably, he received a limb prosthesis only two months ago. Ihor Murenets from the Kharkiv region and Oleksiy Lavrov from the Ivano-Frankivsk region performed in non-official events. They arrived at the competition from the Next Step Ukraine Rehabilitation Center which is located in Irpin, the Kyiv region. This center provides free help for wounded veterans,” added Olena.

“We dedicate this year’s Games to the Irpin rehabilitation center. It is completely a volunteer center that helps rehabilitated combatants with severe injuries, mostly paralyzed”, commented Oleksandr Honcharov.

“Nearly 500 Kharkiv residents came to support the athletes, among them, were relatives and friends, Plast members, girls from Creavita NGO for people with special needs, volunteers, sponsors and partners. Oleksandr Kvarta, the finalist of Ukraine Has Talents project, performed at the competitions,” considers the event organizers.

Organizers reported that many athletes who participated in wheelchairs last year took part in this year’s event on prostheses and have already achieved great results.

Each participant has their own life story. Roman Kashpur, the first-place winner in CrossFit competition among professionals, has been active in sports all his life. Before joining the army he worked as a rehabilitator and fitness instructor. Fighting in the Right Sector volunteer battalion, Roman stepped on a landmine and lost his right foot but in a month and a half, he started walking. This year, he took part in the Heroes’ Games for the first time.

“Sport is one of the methods of psychological rehabilitation, where all negative energy just comes out afterward. It is better than to sit at home and watch TV, grieving how bad it is, ‘I’ve lost my foot!’ You need to start working!” contemplates Roman.

The fighter got his prosthesis less than a year ago, but already runs more than 5 kilometers and undertakes heavy exercises. His coach Yulia Koval notes that ex-combatant started training with her about a month ago. Now, they train 4 times a week.

The main goal of the project is the physical and psychological rehabilitation of wounded military personnel. It also aims to draw attention to the Next Step Ukraine rehabilitation center in Irpin. During the event, about 17,000 UAH (about $710) was raised for the center.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo:, Nakipelo