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Chess Olympiad gold for Ukraine: ‘But medal cannot cease a conflict’

AFTER FORCING a draw from the clutches of defeat towards Poland’s Oliwia Kiolbasa, guaranteeing a gold medal for Ukraine within the Chess Olympiad on Tuesday, Anna Ushenina quietly walked to the aspect of the corridor and slumped into the arms of her teammate Natalia Buksa.

There have been no leaps of pleasure or high-fives, simply tears and hugs. When hundreds of thousands again residence, dealing with a brutal Russian invasion, have been fleeing for all times and struggling for meals and shelter, the gold medal — an Olympiad gold no much less — introduced simply fleeting aid.

Later, with a quivering voice and welled-up eyes, Ushenina put the triumph in perspective: “It’s obviously a great feeling, but the medal can’t stop a war.” There was a second of shocked silence as her voice echoed throughout the packed room.

The 36-year-old Ushenina, her nation’s first ladies’s world champion, is from Kharkiv, simply 30 miles from the Russia border and one of many closely shelled cities within the invasion. “It was a dreadful time because we were living so close to the border. As soon as we heard the news that the Russians were marching, we had no other option but to flee with our family without any preparations,” she says.

The seasoned participant has not gone again residence but. Like most of her teammates. Everyone within the five-member group has a narrative of ordeal to relate. The Muzychuk sisters, Anna and Maria, made a harrowing escape from Lviv, a metropolis in western Ukraine sharing a border with Poland, from the place they traveled to Germany and Spain.

Although the information of an impending conflict was spreading, the sisters deliberated till the primary day of the full-scale invasion on February 24 earlier than fleeing. “At around seven in the morning I woke up because I heard a siren, which was a bit of a shocker, because you don’t know what’s happening. I immediately picked up my mobile to check the news, and I saw – a disaster,” Anna Muzychuk stated in a podcast on the web site chessbase.com.

By that point, Kiev was being bombed from Belarus. “They are bombing our ships within the sea. They are invading from the west, by means of the north, to the south. And then like: ‘oh my God, it is a conflict, what ought to we do? Maria, get up, hearken to the sirens, the conflict has began, I informed my sister’,” she stated.

That night time, with flights halted and trains full, the sisters reached the Polish border in a crammed bus with only a bag and a laptop computer. “We have been very unhappy, as a result of we did not need to depart. I like my metropolis and my condominium, and we have been leaving all people behind. Our mother and father, our grandparents, most of our kinfolk. They are nonetheless in Ukraine,” she stated.

At the border, they needed to look forward to 15 hours in a queue to cross. But she says they have been fortunate as these crossing by bus had particular lanes. “There were people who spent days in the queue,” Anna Muzychuk stated. When the sisters lastly discovered a retailer after crossing the Poland border, they discovered to her horror that almost all of their bank cards have been blocked — happily one card labored.

The males’s group captain Oleksander Sulypa was making ready for a chess match in Reykjavik when the conflict struck. He instantly left his household behind and drove to the army base in Lviv and volunteered to defend his nation. “I didn’t think twice. I wanted to be part of protecting my country. My job is to monitor the stations and stop cars that drive past it. On an average, we used to search 2,000 cars,” Sulypa informed The Indian Express.

The 50-year-old didn’t take part in direct fight, however helped seize lots of of Russian spies close to the army camp and airport. “At that point, chess was the very last thing in our thoughts. We didn’t know we’d be alive for the Olympiad and I didn’t know the place the gamers have been, whether or not they have been lifeless or alive,” he said, adding that if need be, he would return to the warfront again. “My first responsibility is to guard my nation,” he stated.

There have been others whose homes have been razed, who misplaced mates and kinfolk, and who endured shut brushes with dying. And but, in Chennai, Ukraine’s ladies’s group rose to high the desk on the ultimate day with a hard-fought win over Poland, regardless of drawing to India A and taking a look at one stage as in the event that they have been out of the race.

One of the favourites, Ukraine bought off to a breezy begin on this Olympiad, profitable their first 4 video games earlier than they stuttered and managed solely attracts. But they bounced again and saved their nerves. Their destiny was not of their arms and eventually, the USA upsetting India gifted them the title. The males’s group, in the meantime, completed twenty ninth.

It was additionally a triumph of collective will, with all members making essential contributions. The Muzychuk sisters — two of Ukraine’s best — racked up 13 out of 20 factors. Ushenina managed 6.5/8 and Nataliya Buska 7/10. Ukraine was not the most effective group however they have been probably the most resolved; they did not really feel the stress as a result of they’d seen worse. The backdrop had crammed them with a way of equanimity. Now all they need, as Ushenina stated firmly, “is peace.”

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With inputs from TheIndianEXPRESS

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