“Most Attended and Friendliest Ever”: National Trials in Kyiv for Team Ukraine

On September 14, Kyiv hosted its third National Trials as part of selection process for Invictus Games The Hague 2020 Team Ukraine. This year, the competition adopted a new format with medals awarded to all of the participants. However, the change didn’t dim the competitive spirit of Ukrainian veterans and service members taking part in the event.

The Pioneer Stadium in Kyiv was the main venue for this year’s National Trials, with the exception of swimming, which took place in the swimming pool in the Central Sports Complex of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The stadium hosted competitions in all of the remaining disciplines, as well as special sports and entertainment areas for visitors. The organisers were lucky to arrange the closure of Tupoleva Street, on which the stadium is located, for road cycling, and therefore the participants of the race did not have to go travel another location like last year.

The official opening of the competition was held by the President of Ukraine. During his speech to guests and participants, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a new draft law on the status of combatants, which will be prepared by the Ministry of Veterans in the near future and be given priority by the President.

The sports part of the Trials started before the official opening with archers having been the first to compete. They were the only ones who had to deal with bad weather. Saturday morning greeted the guests and participants with cool wind and rain, but within an hour, those were replaced by warmth and later by the sun.

This year, 218 Ukrainian veterans and service members competed at National Trials, more than in all previous years. Along with the number of participants, the amount of sports was also increased with an addition of wheelchair racing and hand cycling to the usual competition programme consisting of athletics, long jump, shot put, indoor rowing, road cycling, powerlifting, swimming and archery.

Sitting volleyball, although not one of the sports that Team Ukraine has competed in previously, became one of the most popular venues for friends and family. After opening at 15:00, the games on the field hadn’t stopped for a second, and in 16:00 it hosted a friendly match between Ukrainian veterans and international service members with the Operation UNIFIER.

The competition continued all day long. Apart from the sporting competition, Pioneer Stadium had a large recreational area arranged for the guests with music, food court, children’s playground, a supervised CrossFit box with instructors and number of other entertainment facilities. In addition, especially trained therapy dogs worked in the stadium with all participants of the event able to enjoy their company.

At 18:00, everyone attending the event gathered again on the main stage for a large awards ceremony opened by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk. Since the new selection criteria for Team Ukraine reduced the weight of sports results and focused on the rehabilitation effects of the Games, the medals were awarded to all of the participants celebrating their Invictus Spirit and victory over their injuries.

This year’s selection committee for Team Ukraine will be working till October 16, and the team will be announced on October 17.

After the official closing of the competition, a friendly party with traditional pizzas by Pizza Veterano and a live performance by the Taruta band awaited competitors, their friends and family.

Relive the best moments of the competition through the photos and videos on their Facebook page.

A message from the organisers:

“We thank all participants, their friends and families together with our guests and event partners for an incredibly friendly celebration of sports and will to live. Together, we are all Invictus!”

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