‘There are no parallels with sport and war’: meet Zhan Beleniuk, the 2020 Olympic gold medal winner in Kyiv

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Seven months ago Zhan Beleniuk won his country’s only gold at the Tokyo Games – now the country’s first black MP is a target for Russia and has three guns on his desk

“Usually when you lose a fight, there’s another day,” whispers Zhan Beleniuk, Ukraine’s sole gold medallist at the Tokyo 2020 Games and its first black member of parliament, as he awaits the Russian offensive on Kyiv. “But here you can die at any moment. And it’s not just your own life. It’s the lives of your family. It’s the future of your country. These are the highest stakes ever.”

Seven months ago, the 31-year-old celebrated his Olympic victory in the 87kg Greco-Roman wrestling by performing a traditional Hopak dance and announcing to the world that his all dreams had come true. Now, he tells the Guardian, he feels stuck “in a nightmare that is impossible to believe”.

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Written by Sean Ingle
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/mar/09/there-are-no-parallels-with-sport-and-war-meet-zhan-beleniuk-the-olympic-gold-medal-winner-in-kyiv under the title “‘There are no parallels with sport and war’: meet Zhan Beleniuk, the 2020 Olympic gold medal winner in Kyiv”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.