Outstanding Ukrainian sportsmen glorify their country not just within Ukraine but also far beyond its boundaries. They became world famous due to their hard work, will to win and deep sense of patriotism. Here is the list of Ukraine Olympics and other world famous Ukrainian sportsmen, who made a significant contribution to the development of popular sports in Ukraine.
Sergey Bubka (1963)
Sergey Bubka is a famous Soviet and Ukrainian pole vaulter, the outdoor world record holder, President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, Vice President of IAAF.
Sergey started his sport career on the world athletics scene at the age of 18 at the European Junior Championships, where he took the seventh place in pole vault. In 1984 Sergey set his first world record in Bratislava, clearing 5.85 meters. Several weeks later he beat his own record to 5.6 meters.
In 1985 Sergey Bubka set the record, which was of real historical significance. He was the first athlete in the world to clear more 6-meter mark.
During the next ten years he was breaking his own record 35 times and improved it to 6.14 meters (1994). Since then Bubka’s record was not beaten by any other sportsmen and is still considered to be the best in the world.
The Klitschko brothers (1971, 1976)
Vitalii (1971) and Vladimir (1976) Klitschko are world famous Ukrainian heavyweight boxers, world champions, PhD in physical education and sport. Vitalii, the elder brother, is also a politician and the mayor of Kyiv (since 2014).
Vitalii and Vladimir had their professional boxing debut in 1996 in Hamburg, where both brothers defeated their opponents. In 1999 Vitalii won his first world title (WBO) and set a world record — he won 25 serial battles by knockout during the first 6 rounds.
In 2008, after four-year break, Vitalii regained the WBC title in the battle against Samuel Peter and realized brothers’ cherish dream – to be world heavyweight champions simultaneously. By that time Vladimir was already world heavyweight champion (WBO, IBF, IBO). Three years later in 2011 he won one more title (WBA), so Klitschko brothers became the holders of all World Heavyweight Titles.
Vitalii Klitschko finished his sport career in 2013. He had a total of 47 fights, 45 wins and 2 losses. Nowadays Vladimir continues his professional career, by 2017 he had 68 fights with 64 wins and 4 losses.
Vasyl Virastyuk (1974)
Vasyl Virastyuk is a legendary Ukrainian athlete, the strongest man in Ukraine, holder of World’s Strongest Man title, Merited Master of Sports of Ukraine, an actor.
In 2000 he participated in Ukraine’s Strongest Man competitions where he won and got the title “the Strongest man in Ukraine”. He was the only strongman in Ukraine who defended his title 6 times (2000-2007).
In 2004 Ukrainian strongman made his best to place ahead ex-champions and to win the new title “World’s Strongest Man”.
Vasyl Virastyuk set a lot of records:
- pulled 5 trams with the mass of 101,5 t;
- carried 2 trunks (342 kg) for 19 m;
- pulled 10 vehicles (16,5 t) for 18,5 m per minute;
- moved on 15 m 7 vehicles (11 t).
Andriy Shevchenko (1976)
Andriy Shevchenko (Sheva) is a famous Ukrainian footballer, head coach of the Ukraine national team, the best striker in the history of Ukrainian football, the Golden Ball holder.
Shevchenko’s football career can be divided into four basic stages:
- Dynamo Kyiv (1997-1999). In 1997 Shevchenko became famous throughout Europe in match against Barcelona, when he scored three goals. For his first “Dynamo” period Sheva scored 106 goals.
- Milan (1999-2006). In 1999 Shevchenko left Dynamo for Milan. During the first season he became the best striker and scored 24 goals. In 2003 Milan won the Champions League and Shevchenko was awarded “Coppa Italia”, then “UEFA Super Cup”. Sheva finished his last season in Milan with 175 goals.
- Chelsea (2006-2008). Although in his first match for Chelsea Andriy scored a goal, his football career in England wasn’t successful. Besides he went through two operations and his back injury. He decided to return back to Milan, after then to Dynamo Kyiv.
- Ukraine national team. Shevchenko debuted in Ukraine national team in 1995. He played 111 matches and scored 48 goals. Since 2016 Andriy Shevchenko was appointed as the head coach of Ukraine national team.
Oksana Baiul (1977)
In the beginning of 1993 young Ukrainian figure skater debuted in European Championships. Despite her two falls in free program Oksana managed to perform extremely complicated triple loop jump and triple lutz and took the silver medal. Also in 1993 her amazing performance in World Championships in Prague left no chance to other participants and brought Oksana Baiul the gold medal.
In 1994 during Winter Olympics Oksana Baiul skated one of the most perfect programs in the figure skating history. She took the Olympic gold medal but her victory wasn’t easy. Prior to Baiul’s performance during the practice skating she collided with German skater who injured Oksana’s shin with a skate blade. But even pain and three stitches on her leg couldn’t prevent Oksana Baiul from becoming the Olympic Champion.
After the Olympic Games Oksana moved to the USA, where she went on skating professionally.
Lilia Podkopayeva (1978)
Lilia Podkopaeva is a prominent gymnast from Ukraine, Merited Master of Sports of Ukraine, world-around and Olympic Champion, the Judge of International Category.
In 1995 Lilia won European Cup and got the title of world all-around champion in artistic gymnastics. The next year Ukrainian gymnast won the gold medal at the European Championships. After all her victories Lilia set the next target – the Olympic Games. Hard and long trainings, uncompromising work above itself and huge financial and moral costs helped Lilia Podkopaeva to win two gold medals at Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. She took the first place in all-around event and in floor exercises. Her “double front somersault with half-twist” became her best-known item, which is still unattainable.
After retirement Lilia Podkopaeva switched to coaching. In 2012 she moved to the USA, where she gives master classes and lectures.
Yana Klochkova (1982)
Yana Klochkova is an outstanding Ukrainian swimmer, four-time Olympic Champion, the most titled Ukrainian Olympic champion in the history of the Olympic games.
Yana’s sports biography is replete with victories and medals from the early years of her fascination with swimming. The start of her sport career at the age of 14 was marked by the second place at European Junior Championships in Denmark. One year later she won the gold medal in Glasgow.
Klochkova was three-time European champion in 1999 and 2000 (Lisbon, Helsinki, Valencia). The sportsman set 50 Ukrainian records in different types of swimming: medley, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
Ukrainian “goldfish” also won the World Championships in a short course in 1999 in Hong Kong. She went on winning new gold and silver medals during 2000 – 2004.
Her participance at the Olympic games brought Yana five medals:
- two gold and one silver medal in Sydney (2000);
- two gold medals in Athens (2004). In Athens Yana got the title “Swimmer of the year”.
Oleksandr Usyk (1987)
Oleksandr Usyk is a prominent professional boxer from Ukraine, WBO world champion, Olympic Champion, Honored Master of Sports of Ukraine.
He began his amateur career in 2006 at European Championships, where he took the third place. In 2008 in Liverpool Usyk defeated all his opponents and won the gold medal. But he achieved his real success at the Olympic Games in 2012, London, when he beat three serious boxers from Russia, Bulgaria and Italy and won the Olympic gold medal.
In 2013 Oleksandr Usyk decided to start professional boxing career. He signed a contract with the Klitschko brothers’ promotion company “K2 Promotions”. In 2014 Oleksandr won his first WBO interim junior-cruiserweight title defeating Daniel Bruwer from South Africa. He defended his title four times to rise up the rang.
Summing up all professional Usyk’s fights he had 11 wins and no losses.
Denys Berinchyk (1988)
Denys Berinchyk is a famous Ukrainian professional boxer, Merited Master of Sports, Olympic Silver Medalist (2012), World Championship Silver Medalist (2011).
In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London Denys Berinchyk competed in light welterweight boxing. He gracefully defeated Swedish, Mongolian and Australian opponents, but lost in the final he and took the silver medal.
During 2012 -2014 Denis took part in the World series of boxing in the team “Ukrainian Atamans”. In 2015 Berinchik decided to switch to professional boxing and signed a contract with the Klitschko brothers’ company “K2 Promotions”. He had 5 fights with 5 wins and no loss.
Ilya Kvasha (1988)
Ilya Kvasha is a perspective diver from Ukraine, Olympic Bronze medalist (2008), the sevenfold European champion, Master of Sports of International Class.
His first sporting achievements young Ukrainian diver demonstrated in 2004, when he won gold at European championships in 1m and 3m springboard. He also took gold six more times at the championships in Europe. At the World Championships he won silver medals in 2006, 2013, 2015.
2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing made Ilya Kvasha world famous. He won the bronze medal in 3 m spring synchro together with Aleksey Prigorov. In 2012 Ilya and Aleksey competed at Summer Olympics in London, where they took the 4th place. Rio 2016 Olympic Games brought Ilya Kvasha the 6th place.