European Championships Munich22 Leichtathletik, 19.08.2022 Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk UKR freut sich ueber den Europameistertitel im Dreisprung der Frauen European Championships Munich22 - Leichtathletik - Evening Session am 19.08.2022 im Olympiastadion in Muenchen Deutschland. *** European Championships Munich22 Athletics, 19 08 2022 Maryna Bekh Romanchuk UKR is happy to win the European title in womens triple jump European Championships Munich22 Athletics Evening Session on 19 08 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich Germany Copyright: xBEAUTIFULxSPORTS/R.xSchmittx

Exercise restraint towards Putin, the Russian people, their athletes? Never. This is how Maryna Bech-Romanchuk sees it. “Russia is a terrorist state,” she tells the daily mirror. She no longer wants to talk to the Russian athletes. “Either they remain silent or they support Putin.”

The 27-year-old sits next to her husband, the Ukrainian swimmer Mykhailo Romanchuk, and holds his hand at the press conference on the occasion of the Berlin Istaf Athletics Meeting on Friday. “Family, solidarity, that’s very important now,” says the Ukrainian.

Bech-Romanchuk is one of the world’s best triple and long jump athletes. When you watch her, it looks like she has springs on her feet. A few weeks ago she became European champion in the triple jump, this Sunday she wants to challenge Malaika Mihambo in the long jump at the Istaf in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Above all, however, she wants to draw attention to the war in Ukraine – and repeatedly name the culprits, name Russia.

One might think that there are more pressing issues in Ukraine than sport at the moment. But this is important for the battered country these days and months. The war is wearing on people’s nerves more and more every day, it wears them down. The sport distracts and, as it were, welds the nation together.

When Maryna Bech-Romantschuk won the triple jump competition in Munich, the media echo was great. And when boxer Oleksandr Usyk recently defended his title against Anthony Joshua, many people seemed to forget, at least for a few moments or hours, all the misery that is happening to Ukraine. Until the next bombs hit.

“We need good news now, news that doesn’t just deal with war,” says Bech-Romanchuk. Nevertheless, she sees herself on a political mission. “We athletes have the opportunity to talk about the situation in Ukraine. It also helps the people of Ukraine when our anthem is played at awards ceremonies,” she says.

Bech-Romanchuk and her husband Mykhailo set the best example. Mykhailo Romanchuk won the gold medal at the European Championships over 1500 meters freestyle, three days later his wife won in Munich in the triple jump. It is amazing that the two are capable of such top performances.

Bekh-Romanchuk clearly remembers the day when the war began, which completely changed her life and the lives of many people in Ukraine. “My father came into my room early in the morning and said, ‘Maryna, wake up, the war is on.’ I couldn’t believe it and said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘Yes!'”

Until six months ago, Maryna Bech-Romanchuk lived with her family in a small town in western Ukraine. After the outbreak of war, the exceptional athlete stayed with her family for two weeks. “The situation was relatively calm for us. We took in a number of friends and relatives,” she says. Training in her home country was just as unthinkable for her as it was for her husband, who lived near Kyiv.

Since then, the two have been touring through Europe. Mychajlo Romantschuk is now training with Florian Wellbrock in Magdeburg, and his wife would like to settle down in Magdeburg in the next few months. For how long, she cannot say at the moment. “Every day I think of my family who still lives in Ukraine. I’m very worried,” she says, fighting back tears.

Sadness and anger have been her constant companions for months. She has no sympathy for Russian track and field athletes who have been banned because of the war. “You lead a normal life, you can train normally in Russia. Nothing is normal for us anymore,” she says. Bech-Romantschuk would also be only too happy to hear empathetic words from the Russian athletes.

“On the day of my long jump competition in Munich, the mother of the Ukrainian high jumper Kateryna Tabashnyk died in a bomb attack in Kharkiv,” says Bech-Romantschuk. “None of the Russian athletes said anything about it or shared any words of regret.”

If she had her way, the ban on Russian athletes could last at least until the war was over. This is also shown by her reaction to the recent “scandal” at the US Open, when Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent Viktoria Azarenka. When asked about this, Bech-Romantschuk just grins and says: “Everyone has to know how to deal with it. And Marta decided to do it. You have to accept that.”

There will be no such political actions in the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Russian athletes are not invited. Bech-Romantschuk’s biggest opponent will be the exceptional German athlete Malaika Mihambo. The two have been engaged in exciting duels for years, and Mihambo usually emerges as the winner. But with the tailwind from Munich, Bech-Romantschuk is a very serious opponent for Mihambo. Besides, she doesn’t just jump for herself. But for the people from Ukraine.