March 6 - Nataliya Dobrynska, Ukraine's former Olympic heptathlon champion who is head of her nation's delegation here at the World Indoor Athletics Championships, has made an impassioned plea on behalf of her country in the wake of the recent incursions of Russian armed forces.
"Nobody in Ukraine at all and particularly in our team wants to face war," she said, making a point of thanking all countries, including neighbours and hosts Poland, who have supported the newly established Government.
"We want to live in peace as any person in our world.
"We are very thankful for all countries who supported us in such difficult time.
"I hope that the destiny of Ukraine will be resolved in a diplomatic way in the nearest future.
"In any case, we need to distinguish sport and politics.
"Because of some financial problems we couldn't organise a traditional training camp for our athletes before this World Indoor Championships.
"But I'm believing that all difficulties we have met just make our athletes stronger.
"Certainly every athlete of our team cannot take the current situation indifferently but we're professionals and we should be focused on our work to present our country on the international athletics arena at the highest level.
"In Sopot we have a unique mission.
"Here we're not just athletes, we're peace ambassadors as well."
The Ukrainian team arrived here late last night and issued an official statement for the people of its nation and world citizens.
"We want to say that we are indivisible and united country," it read.
"We would like that in such difficult time for our country everyone Ukrainian remembered those moments of pride which our athletes had at international arena during state's time of independence.
"Please, remember what is the fabulous victory took our relay biathlon team at the Winter Olympics.
"There are athletes from all Ukrainian regions in our team from North to South, from West to East, from Donetsk, Lviv and Crimea.
"We also have Russian and Ukrainian speaking athletes in the team but we always understand each other and always open to all people for communication.
"We want to stay in the one team which will always be a single whole and will always perform under the Ukrainian flag.
"Together we are strong.
"Ukraine is sovereign."
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