A champion Ukrainian marksman with an Olympic gold to her name now intends to use her skills to protect her homeland from invading Russian forces.
Kristina Dmitrenko, 22, won gold in biathlon at the 2016 Youth Olympics – a sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. In February of this year, she was in the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, where she was putting the finishing touches on preparations for an international competition. However, Russia invaded her nation on February 24, changing everything for her.
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According newsweek, Dmitrenko was supposed to head to Switzerland on February 27 and then to Italy to compete, but his sporting career was rendered insignificant as he came across images of war in Kiev and Chernihiv. That’s when the biathlete decided to join the Ukrainian National Guard, where she qualified to take up arms against the invaders of her country.
“I never in my life could have thought that everything would be like this,” Dmitrenko said according to a translation of a post on the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s Facebook page. The 22-year-old, however, added that she is “not afraid of the enemy”.
“I shoot well so the invaders don’t have a chance,” Dmitrenko said. She also insisted that she wouldn’t bother trading a biathlon rifle for a machine gun. “Whatever weapon I have in my hands, whether in competition or in the army, I will stick to it until the end,” she said in the post, adding that “victory will definitely be ours.”
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Meanwhile, this comes as Ukrainian forces forced Russian troops to withdraw from the second city of Kharkiv. However, on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also reported that the situation in the Donbas region remains very difficult as Russian forces are still trying to demonstrate some sort of victory.
But according to a top Ukrainian military official, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, the ongoing war would reach a turning point in mid-August and end by the end of this year.