February 7, 2020

2019: Sports: Ukraine’s athletes and the diaspora’s, too



Ukraine’s under-20 team celebrates its come-from-behind win against South Korea on June 15 at Lodz Stadium at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.

Champions. Ukraine had many of them in 2019, as the sports world continued to witness Ukrainians achieve outstanding athletic performances. Lady Ukrainian tennis stars volleyed to victory, Ukrainian boxers punched their way to knockout wins, Ukrainian judokas threw down opponents into triumphant pins, and Zhan Beleniuk was selected as No. 1 in the world of Greco-Roman wrestling.

The surprises of the past year were team efforts: Team Ukraine winning soccer’s U-20 World Cup, the Ukrainian national team winning Group B to qualify for Euro 2020 and Team Ukraine’s phenomenal third-place showing at the 2019 European Games.

Individually and collectively, it was yet another banner year for Ukrainians in sports.

Our sports correspondent’s annual awards:

  • Outstanding Male Athlete: Vasyl Lomachenko, boxing
  • Outstanding Female Athlete: Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva, synchronized swimming
  • Rookie of the Year: Oleksiy Sereda, swimming
  • Most Improved Athlete: Dayana Yastremska, tennis
  • Most Inspirational Athlete: Zhan Belenyuk, wrestling
  • Coach of the Year: Oleksandr Petrakov, U-20 soccer team
  • Team of the Year: Ukraine U-20 soccer team

In 2019 Ukrainian athletes won some 125 gold medals in championship tournaments as reported by The Ukrainian Weekly. Ukrainians were most proficient in athletics (19 gold medals), judo (19) and swimming (18). Below is a brief recap of the gold medal victories and top headlines, alphabetically by sport, including a review of the European Games, Summer Universiade, European Youth Summer Olympic Festival and an incredible global achievement by one Oksana Litynska.

In ATHLETICS, sprinter Hrystyna Stuy won gold in the women’s 60-m race (7.32 seconds) at the Meeting Elite de Mondeville (France) on February 2. Mykhailo Kokhan won gold in the U-23 hammer throw at the 2019 European Throwing Cup in Slovakia on March 9-10. Yaroslava Mahuchikh won gold in the women’s high jump at the IAAF Doha Diamond League event in Qatar on May 3. Bohdan Bondarenko won gold in the men’s high jump on June 6 at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Rome and at the international meeting Mohammed VI D’Athletisme de Rabat in Morocco on June 16. Daryna Sloboda won gold in the high jump and shot put at the European Combined Events Cup Super League meet in Lutsk, Ukraine on July 6-7. Ukraine won four gold medals at the 2019 European Athletics U-20 Championships in Sweden on July 18-21. Gold medalists were Artem Konovalenko (triple jump, 16.5 m, setting a new U-20 record), Myhaylo Kokhan (hammer throw, 84.73 m, Euro U-20, championship and world U-20 records), Yaroslava Mahuchikh (high jump) and Valeriya Ivanenko (hammer throw).

BASKETBALL news saw the Los Angeles Lakers trade Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to the Detroit Pistons in early February in exchange for Reggie Bullock. Kyle Kuzma (Ukrainian on his mother’s side) was growing into NBA stardom with the Lakers, while Canadian Kelly Olynyk heated up in Miami. After five frustrating seasons with Phoenix, Alex Len was granted a fresh start with the Atlanta Hawks, accepting a two-year, $8.5 million guaranteed deal.

In BIATHLON Ekaterina Bekh won two gold medals at the Junior World Championships January 27-February 2 in Slovakia, finishing first in the 7.5-km sprint and the 10-km pursuit. Dmytro Pidruchnyi won gold in the men’s 12.5-km pursuit at the World Championships in Sweden on March 7-17, the first ever Ukrainian man to win gold. Olga Abramova won gold in the women’s 7.5-km sprint at the IBU Cup in Italy on March 14-17.

Andrei Ivanov/biathlon.com.ua

Dmytro Pidruchnyi won gold in the men’s 12.5-kilometer pursuit at the Biathlon World Championships held on March 7-17 in Oestersund, Sweden.

Undefeated light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk retained his World Boxing Council (WBC) title with a TKO over Doudou Ngumbu on March 30 in Philadelphia when the challenger suffered a calf injury. Pound-for-pound BOXING king Vasyl Lomachenko retained his unified World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) titles when he crushed Anthony Crolla with a knockout in the fourth round of a lightweight bout in Los Angeles on April 12. Lightweight Denys Berinchyk retained his WBO lightweight international title by unanimous decision against Nihito Arakawa on April 20 in Kyiv. Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk relinquished his four title belts in order to move up to the heavyweight division. Retired heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko joined the WBA board as a technical advisor. Vasyl Lomachenko successfully defended his two 135-pound lightweight titles and added a third (WBC) by winning a lopsided, yet hard-to-earn, bout with Luke Campbell in a fight between Olympic gold medalists in London, England, on August 31. Lightweight Denys Berinchyk again retained his WBO international title by unanimous decision over Patricio Moreno on October 5 in Kyiv. Oleksandr Usyk’s first step chasing titles in boxing’s heavyweight division on October 12 in Chicago was successful when he methodically broke down opponent Chazz Witherspoon with a seventh-round TKO. Previously unbeaten Gvozdyk suffered his first ever defeat at the hands of champion Artur Beterbiev in a lightweight boxing match held in Philadelphia on October 18, lasting 10 rounds.

Top Rank

Lightweight WBA and WBO champion Vasyl Lomachenko after his fourth-round knockout against Anthony Crolla of Great Britain on April 12 in Los Angeles.

Ukraine won 16 gold medals (51 total) to finish third over all at the 2019 EUROPEAN GAMES in Minsk on June 21-30. Forty-three nations competed in 200 events in 15 sports, 10 of which offered qualification opportunities for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Ukrainian gold medalists in Minsk: Georgii Zantaraia (66 kg) and Daria Bilohid (48 kg) in judo, Zhan Beleniuk (87 kg), Yuliia Tkach and Anastasia Sapsai (+80 kg) in wrestling, Oleg Verniaev (parallel bars) and Anastasia Bachynska (floor) in gymnastics, 4×400-m mixed relay team (Danylo Danylenko/Tatiana Melnyk/Oleksiy Pozdnyakov/Yana Kachur) , mixed distance pursuit relay races team (Yevhen Hutsol/Olha Lyakhova/Pozdnyakov/Kachur), athletics team (team event), Hanna Solovey (cycling), Mariya Povkh/Liudmyla Kuklinovska (K-2 two-person kayak), Anita Serogina (61 kg) and Stanislav Horuna (75 kg) in karate, and boxers Oleksandr Khyzniak (75 kg) and Victor Vykhryst (+91 kg).

Ukraine won eight gold medals at the 2019 EURO YOUTH SUMMER OLYMPIC FESTIVAL in Baku on July 21-27: boys’ gymnastics team (Nazar Chepurnyi/Volodymyr Kostiuk/Illia Kovtun), Chepurnyi (floor exercise and pummel horse), Kovtun (all-around, parallel bars, horizontal bar), Rostyslav Kryzhanivskyi (men’s 100-m breaststroke) and Mariia Horielova (woman’s long jump). Vasyl Humen won gold in cadet boys’ saber at the World Junior-Cadet Championships in Poland on April 7.

One of FENCING’s best in the world, Olha Kharlan, won gold in the women’s saber individual event at the Grand Prix Seoul, South Korea, on April 26. Kharlan won gold again (her sixth world championship) in saber at the World Fencing Championships in Budapest on July 15-23. This win followed her gold medal at the European Fencing Championship in Germany one month prior, her eighth European title, six individual. At the Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in South Korea on September 17-23, gold medal winners were Serhiy Shavkun, Anna Pashkova (individual) and Andriy Demchuk, Artem Manko, Dmytro Seryozhenko, Anton Datsko (team). Ukraine’s women’s epee fencing team – Kateryna Chentsova, Anna Taranenko, Oleksandra Seniuta, Daria Myroniuk – won gold in the team competition at the European Cup in Budapest on September 29-30.

Lyudmyla Mykhailovska, founder of the Ukrainian Federation of FIGURE SKATING and member of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, passed away at age 72 on February 13.

Matt Kuchar won the Sony Open of GOLF in mid-January at the Wai’alae Country Club in Honolulu, shooting a 22-under 258 – the third best in course history.

Ukraine’s rhythmic gymnastics team won two gold medals at the Rhythmic GYMNASTICS Grand Prix in France on March 30-31. The squad prevailed in the five-ball event and in the three rings/two clubs event. Nazar Chepurnyi won gold in the horizontal bar at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics Junior World Championships in Hungary on June 27-30.

Chris Bytz

UNA Second Vice-President Eugene Serba (right), who accepted the plaque presented to the UNA as an inductee into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame in the Legacy category, is seen with NHL great Wayne Babych, a keynote speaker at the September 14 event.

In the world of HOCKEY, 48 players of Ukrainian descent were found on extended NHL rosters for the 2018-2019 season, with the Calgary Flames leading the way with five. Included were eight “second-generation” Ukrainian hockey players – sons of ex-NHL players, notably a pair of Tkachuks (Matthew and Brady). Parents Konstantin and Irina Lodnia with daughter Masha sacrificed big-time when they packed up their belongings and left Ukraine for a better life in Los Angeles. Benefitting most from their move was son Ivan, selected by the Minnesota Wild as the 85th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Cale Makar won the Hobey Baker Award as top player in college hockey on April 12, played in the Frozen Four championship game on April 13 (UMASS lost 3-0) and scored a goal on his first ever shot in the NHL on April 14 when he suited up in Colorado’s 6-2 Stanley Cup playoff win over Calgary. Wayne’s brother, Keith Gretzky, filled the role of interim GM for the Edmonton Oilers following the club’s firing of GM Peter Chiarelli in early 2019. Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko were two Ukrainian Stanley Cup champions on the St. Louis Blues squad that bested Boston in the finals. Noteworthy contributors to their teams included Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech and Ottawa rookie Brady Tkachuk. In an exclusive interview with The Ukrainian Weekly prior to being inducted into the Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame, ex-St. Louis Blues hockey star Wayne Babych admitted he enjoyed being set up by fellow-Uke Bernie Federko during his 54-goal season and his favorite teammate was younger brother Dave when the two joined forces briefly on the Hartford Whalers. Calgary signed Matthew Tkachuk to a three-year bridge deal with an average annual value of $7 million right before the start of the 2019-2020 season. As the 2019-2020 campaign faced off, The Weekly ranked the top 20 Ukrainian pucksters with two Tkachuks (Calgary’s Matthew at No. 1 and Ottawa’s Brady at No. 7) placing in the top seven. Stanley Cup champions Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko ranked third and fourth.

Mykola Holoborodko (50 kg) and Vladyslav Kazimirov (60 kg) won gold medals at the Cadet European JUDO Cup in Croatia on March 9-10. Tymur Valieiev (81 kg) won gold at the Cadet Judo Cup in the Czech Republic on April 6-7. Oleksandr Moisei (66 kg), Vitalii Shepel (90 kg) and Anton Savytskiy (100 kg) won gold at the 2019 Judo Cup in Croatia on April 13-14. Holoborodko (50 kg), Serhii Nebotov (66 kg) and Valieiev (81 kg) won gold at the Cadet European Judo Cup in Romania on May 4-5. Savytskiy (100 kg) won gold at the European Judo Cup in Sarajevo on May 4-5. Yelyzaveta Kalanina (+78 kg) won gold at the Baku Grand Slam on May 11-12. Inna Cherniak (52 kg) won gold at the IBSA Judo Grand-Prix Baku on May 11-12. Rostyslav Berezhnyi (66 kg) won gold at the Cadet European Judo Cup in Poland on May 18-19. Natalia Chystiakova (78 kg) won gold at the Junior European Judo Cup in Prague on July 20-21. Ukraine won three gold medals (16 total) at the Veteran European Championships in Gran Canaria on July 25-28: Kostiantyn Ananchenko (M2 81 kg), Vitalii Dudchyk (M2 90 kg) and Mykola Tereshchenko (M1 +100 kg). Ukraine topped the medals table with 12 at the Junior European Judo Cup in Romania on August 17-18, including gold medalists Yevheniy Balyevskyy (+100 kg), Vadim Velkov (90 kg) and Chystiakova (78 kg). Daria Bilodid (48 kg) won gold at the World Judo Championship in Tokyo on August 24-25. Cherniak (B3 52 kg) won gold at the IBSA Judo Grand Prix (blind athletes) in Tashkent on September 21-22. Ukraine’s veteran judo athletes won three golds at the World Judo Championships for Veterans in Morocco on October 18-20: Ilya Chymchyri (90 kg), Nugzar Mesablishvili (100 kg) and Dmytro Selezen (+100 kg). Bilodid (48 kg) won gold at the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi on October 25-27 in the United Arab Emirates. Ukraine won three golds at the Cadet European Judo Cup in Hungary on November 15-17: Iia Kuchava (52 kg), Yuliia Kerchenko (70 kg) and Yana Zinchenko (57 kg).

Ukraine’s women’s KARATE team won gold at the European Karate Championship in Spain on March 30. The team: Anzhelika Terliuha, Halyna Melnyk, Anita Seriohina and Diana Shostak.

Kyiv Baseball School Little League (LL) won the right to represent Ukraine at the European Regional Championships by winning the annual Ukraine LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL Championship held in Kremenets, Ternopil Oblast, on June 2-6. Seven teams competed with 84 players showcasing their skills, including 20 girls. In Kutno, Poland, Kyiv LL lost to Netherlands, defeated Austria, then lost to England in the July European Regionals. The first ever Ukraine Little League Baseball Championship for children age 8-10 was played in Kremenets on September 19-23, in an attempt to encourage schools and communities to teach basic baseball skills at an earlier age in Ukraine. Eight Little League programs competed with Kropyvnytskyi LL staging an amazing comeback (down 12-9 with two outs in the bottom of the final inning) to defeat Darnytsia, 13-12. This past summer, Ukraine’s Ministry of Sports funded a most-ever four national baseball teams and two national softball teams at various championships.

Ukraine won three gold medals at the World Classic POWERLIFTING Championships in Sweden on June 3-15: Anatolii Novopismennyi (93 kg) won gold, setting a new world record with 320 kg in the squat, 197.5 kg in bench press and 335 kg in deadlift for a total of 852.5 kg, a new world record. Kostiantyn Yezyk (105 kg) won gold in bench press and Dmytro Pavlenko (120 kg) won gold in the squat.

Kateryna Harbaruk won gold (7:11.7 seconds) in the junior women’s U-18 at the European Indoor ROWING Championships in Denmark on January 26. Olena Buryak won gold the women’s 2,000-m and 500-m races at the Indoor Rowing World Championships on February 23-24 in Long Beach, Calif. Anton Bondarenko (500-m dash) and Pavlo Prykhodko (500-m MasterA) also won gold medals.

Lviv-born Oksana Litynska’s climb of Mount Vinson in Antarctica on December 28 concluded her incredible quest of climbing the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. In May she had reached the world’s highest point, Mount Everest, the third Ukrainian woman to accomplish this feat. Litynska is one of an exclusive club of some 70 women to have achieved the SEVEN SUMMITS program.

Ukraine finished first at the European Championship Running Target 50-m (SHOOTING) in Hungary on July 8-15. Viktoriya Rybovalova (50-m target), Kristina Hilevych (50-m target mixed), team event (50-m women’s target and 50-m running target), junior women’s team (50-m running target mixed race) and Denys Babliuk/Anastasiia Zhuchenko (50-m running target mixed team race) were gold medal winners for Team Ukraine.

Ukraine finished first with 41 total medals (nine gold) at the World Para Nordic SKIING Championships on February 15-24 in British Columbia. The competition included biathlon and cross country skiing events for visually impaired and disabled athletes. Liudmyla Liashenko and Taras Rad each won three individual gold medals. Oksana Shyshkova won an individual gold and Ukrainian-born Oksana Masters won five gold medals for Team USA. Kateryna Kotsar won two gold medals at the second series of the European Cup on March 16-17 in Slovakia.

Shakhtar Donetsk defender Yaroslav Rakitsky signed a contract with FC Zenit St. Petersburg with an annual salary of 2.5 million euros, sparking outrage among Ukrainian SOCCER fans. Goalkeeper Andriy Lunin has a long future ahead with the Ukrainian National team as one of the top goalkeeping prospects in all of Europe. His young career has seen him play for Dnipro, Zorya Luhansk and CD Leganes (on loan from Real Madrid). Striker Roman Zozulya went from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to Spain’s Real Betis to Rayo Vallecano to Albacete Balompie, enduring unfounded attacks from the Spanish press and malicious fan abuse, before gaining much success on and off the pitch at his latest stop. Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Inhulets Petrove, 4-0, in the Ukrainian Cup final on May 15 at Slavytuch Arena in Zaporizhia, qualifying the club for the UEFA Champions League. Ukraine won 2-0 versus Germany in the final to win the European Deaf Football Championships in Greece on June 2-15, winning the 16-team tournament for the first time. Ukraine’s U-20 men’s soccer team scored a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over South Korea on June 15 at Lodz Stadium during the FIFA U-20 World Cup final in Poland. Two goals by Vladyslav Supriaha (34th + 52nd minutes) and an incredible run by Heorhiy Tsitaishvlii from his own side of midfield to the penalty area capped by a shot into the corner of the net (89th minute) accounted for Ukraine’s scoring. Ukraine’s goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, awarded the Golden Glove award of the tournament, kept the opposition to only one goal. This was the first time Ukraine ever progressed past the Round of 16 in this World Cup. Serhii Buletsa earned the Adidas Silver Ball award, and Danylo Sikan received the Silver Boot award. Dynamo Kyiv defeated Shakhtar Donetsk to win the Ukrainian Super Cup, 2-1, on July 28 in Odesa. Shakhtar was led by new coach Luis Castro. The Ukrainian Premier League will be expanding from 12 teams in 2019-2020 to 16 teams for the 2021-2022 season. Ukraine’s 2-1 defeat of Portugal on October 14 in Kyiv clinched a spot at Euro 2020 with a first-place overall finish in Group B. Goals by Roman Yaremchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko proved enough to offset Christiano Ronaldo’s 700th career goal. Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian soccer legend, was rated as No. 19 on the list of the 100 top players of the 21st century by the British publication The Independent. Yevhen Konoplyanka signed a three-year contract with Shakhtar Donetsk after playing for Germany’s Schalke 04 since 2016. Dynamo Kyiv’s new head coach is Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko, replacing Alyaksandr Khatsevich. Ukraine’s Parliament voted for a provisional commission to investigate Andriy Pavelko’s alleged corrupt dealings with construction of football pitches with artificial turf in Ukraine in 2017-2018. Pavelko is president of the Football Federation of Ukraine.

Maryna Bekh-Roamnchuk (women’s long jump), Olha Korsun (women’s triple jump), Iryna Klymets (hammer throw), 4×400-m relay team, Yeva Meleshchuk (individual clubs/gymnastics) and Yulia Chumachenko (high jump) were Ukraine’s gold medal winners at the 2019 SUMMER UNIVERSIADE on July 3-14 in Naples, Italy.

Ukraine won 15 medals (eight gold) at the 19th U.S. SUMO Open 2019 in Los Angeles on March 21-25. Gold medalists were: Karyna Kolesnik (65 kg), Svitlana Kolesnyk (73 kg), Sviatoslav Semykras (85 kg), Maryna Maksymenko (80 kg), Ivanna Berezovska (+80 kg) and Oleksandr Veresiuk (+115 kg). Veresiuk won the men’s open-weight title and Berezovska won the women’s open-weight title.

Anastasiya Savchuk and Marta Fiedina won gold in the technical portion and twins Vlada and Maryna Aleksiiva won gold in the duet free event at the FINA Artistic SWIMMING World Series in Paris on March 3. Ukraine’s women’s team won gold in the team technical with the squad finishing second overall. Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva won gold in the duet free program and the highlight routine competition at the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series on April 4 in Greece. Andriy Govorov won the men’s 50-m butterfly (27.87 seconds) at the FINA Champions Swim Series in Budapest on May 11-12. Ukraine won five gold medals at the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Barcelona on May 31-June 3: highlight competition, women’s team free combination, Fiedina in solo free routine, Anastasiya Savchuk/Fiedina in the duet free routine and duet technical routine. Ukraine’s women’s team composed of Maryna Aleksiiva, Vladyslava Aleksiiva, Valeriis Aprielieva, Veronika Hryshko, Oleksandra Kovalenko, Yana Nariezhna, Kaetyna Reznik, Anastasiya Savchuk, Alina Shynkarenko and Yelyzaveta Yakhno won gold in the team highlight event (94.500 pts) at the FINA Artistic Swimming World Aquatics Championships on July 12-28 in South Korea. Ukraine won gold in the team technical program at the Euro Junior Artistic Synchronized Swimming Championships in Prague on June 18-23. Sophia Hrechko won gold in the 200-m butterfly at the Junior World Finswimming Championship held in Egypt July 28-August 4. Ukraine finished second at the FINA European Junior Diving Championships in Kyiv on August 5-11 with gold medalists Viktoria Kesar/Stanislav Olefirchyk in mixed synchronized 3-m springboard, Sofia Lyskun/Oleksiy Sereda in synchronized 10-m platform and Olena Fedorova in 1-meter springboard. Sereda, 13, became youngest ever European champion by winning the 10-m platform dive. Vladyslav Bukhov won gold in the men’s 50-m freestyle at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships on August 2-25 in Budapest. Mykhailo Romanchuk won gold in the men’s 1,500-m freestyle at the FINA Swimming World Cup in Qatar on November 7-9.

Facebook/Dayana Yastremska group

Dayana Yastremska won the WTA Thailand Open on February 3 and the Strasbourg International in France on May 25.

The TENNIS world saw Dayana Yastremska win the WTA Thailand Open on February 3, showcasing her disciplined and focused play. She defeated Ajla Tomljanvic 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (3) in a tightly contested final. Yastremska won the Strasbourg International in France on May 25, her third title in eight months. The final match took 2 hours, 58 minutes to play. Seventeen-year-old Daria Snigur won the Wimbledon junior girls’ title in England on July 13, defeating American Alexa Noel 6-4, 6-4; it was a rematch from a week prior when Snigur bested Noel in the final of a tournament in Roehampton, England 6-1, 6-2. This was Snigur’s first major title and fourth overall singles title. She was the second Ukrainian junior champion at Wimbledon after Kateryna Bondarenko in 2004. Ukrainian player Helen Ploskina was fined $20,000 and given a lifetime ban after being found guilty of match-fixing. In a rare all-Ukrainian U.S. Open match-up, Elina Svitolina bested Yastremska 6-2, 6-0 on August 30. The number of emerging young Ukrainian women tennis stars is amazing when considering the political and economic upheaval in our homeland. The Bondarenko sisters, Kateryna and Alyona, and Yuliana Fedak yielded to Elina Svitolina, Lesia Tsurenko and Kateryna Kozlova, who welcomed Anhelina Kalinina, Katarina Zavatska and Dayana Yastremska only soon to be joined by Marta Kostyuk, Daria Snigur and Daria Lopatetska. Player development has evolved with the times, progressing from affluent businessmen providing funding to a government sponsored growing Ukrainian Tennis Federation, all based upon Ukraine’s strong tennis tradition originating from family dynasties. Fed Cup competition and improved infrastructure have paved the way recently with the ultimate goal being a national tennis center to nurture and maintain Ukrainian tennis talent.

Ukraine won three gold medals at the 2019 European freestyle WRESTLING championships on March 4-10 in Serbia. Gold medalists were Andriy Yatsenko (52 kg), Oksana Livach (50 kg) and Ilona Prokopevniuk (62 kg). After winning the gold medal at the 70th UWW Europeaan Wrestling Championships in Bucharest on April 8-14, Greco-Roman wrestler Zhan Belenyuk (87 kg) danced the “Hopak” and dedicated his victory to his native Ukraine. Woman wrestler Alina Akobiia (57 kg) won gold at the European Cadet Championships in Spain on June 3-9. Three Ukrainians won gold medals at the European Junior Championships on June 17-23 in Italy: Mykyta Abramov (51 kg), Aida Kerymova (43 kg) and Yuliia Leskovets (61 kg). Ukrainian wrestler Mykyta Alekseev (80 kg) won gold at the World Cadet Wrestling Championships in Bulgaria July 29-August 4. Ukraine’s junior wrestler Erik Arushanian (70 kg) won a gold medal in men’s freestyle at the World Junior Wrestling Championships in Estonia on August 12-18. Belenyuk was named champion of the world in Greco-Roman wrestling for 2019. He won gold at both the European Championships and at the second European Games.


  • The Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 2007 Girls Olympyk Red Team won the 2019 Eastern Penn Youth Soccer Association Indoor State Championship Cup on February 3.
  • Fifty-one competitors participated in the 65th annual races at Hunter Mountain on March 2, conducted by the Carpathian Ski Club (known by its Ukrainian acronym KLK). Vera Hrab and Andrey Mykyta won awards for fastest female and male skiers.
  • The New York Ukrainians won the Cosmopolitan Soccer League Indoor Winter League tournament on March 3 in Brooklyn.
  • The Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals Olympyk Red Team won the ninth annual FC Europa Turf Cup on March 10, winning four matches, two by clean sheets.
  • The Zolotyj Promin dance ensemble provided the off-ice entertainment at the first-ever Ukrainian Day at the Hartford Wolf Pack on April 7. On the ice, Hartford bested Binghamton 62, with Hartford’s Darren Raddysh earning an assist and Binghamton’s Alex Krushelnyski scoring a goal.
  • Maria Hanchuk of South Windsor, Conn., won the 2019 Gatorade Connecticut Softball Player of the Year award on May 30 for her outstanding athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field.
  • Thirteen-year-old Kase Schinnerer defeated Nick Nalywayko 6-1, 6-1 in the men’s finals at 64th National Tennis Championships of the Ukrainian Sports Federation of the U.S.A. and Canada (known as USCAK) at Soyuzivka Heritage Center during Labor Day weekend. Maryna Zhytska repeated as women’s champion, beating her sister Kira Zhytska-Richardson 6-3, 6-3.
  • Some 160 healthy Ukrainian cultural activists participated in the 2019 Vyshyvanka Run New York which included walking, running and a kids’ race on August 25. The annual event is held to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day.
  • Thirty-seven individuals, teams and organizations comprised the fourth Ukrainian Sports Hall of Fame class induction ceremony held on September 15 in Horsham, Pa. Keynote speakers were ex-St. Louis Blues star Wayne Babych and soccer maven Dr. Joe Machnik. The Ukrainian National Association became one of the first organizations inducted into the new Legacy category.
  • Seventy-nine Ukrainians, including 60 members of the Ukrainian Running Club New York, ran in the annual New York City Marathon on November 3. The event kicked off with a Parade of Nations ceremony featuring Ukrainian dancers performing the “Hopak” two days prior, followed by a Ukrainian pre-marathon dinner with plenty of varenyky one day before the event. Top Ukrainian race finishers were 48-year-old Roman Pyasta and 28-year-old Yevhen Hodun, with the former besting the latter by two seconds. The face of the 2019 “It Will Excite You” advertising program for the New York City Marathon was a native of Kherson, Ukraine, Tetiana Samokysh.