Wed. Jun 29th, 2022

Olympic champion Marina Goliadkina issued an emotional message on the current conflict in Donbass and Ukraine

Synchronized swimming Olympic champion Marina Goliadkina says the pain and suffering of her Donetsk birthplace was neglected before Russia stepped in to “to stand up for” the local population.

Goliadkina was born in the city in the Donbass region and represented Ukraine up until 2014, when she departed for Russia.

Russia recently recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics as independent, and the conflict in the region as well as the broader fighting in Ukraine has hit particularly close to home for Goliadkina.

The 24-year-old star issued an emotional social media message wishing for peace, but also speaking of the horrors she had endured.

“This is my personal story. I was born and grew up in Donetsk,” said Goliadkina, sharing an image of herself with the Russian flag. 

“I was there under shelling in 2014. I saw how people killed their own. Everyone knew how citizens in Donbass were bombed, literally exterminating people.

“But the next day I went and trained no matter what, because this is sport. Sport, which should unite, which at all times reconciled peoples and became a link demonstrating the possibilities of a truce.

“But today, in difficult times for our fraternal countries, even this possibility is deliberately excluded for our athletes,” added the five-time world and European champion, as Russian athletes face sweeping bans in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.

“I felt this war. And today I clearly understand who takes part in it. It is a pity that the world community did not raise so much noise for the citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk all these years, for whom Russia had the courage to stand up. It is as if the people who used to live in Donbass have forgotten what happened there, and as if this war did not hurt anyone.

“In the end, we left for Russia. Many people we know remained in Donetsk, who said that the sounds of shelling and explosions did not stop for eight years. I know firsthand how they lived all these years,” said Goliadkina, who won Olympic gold with the Russian artistic swimming team in Tokyo last summer. 

“The children born in those years had no childhood. Donetsk was one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine, and now my heart aches: everything is broken, everything is destroyed.

“I’m far from politics. But I really hope that someday I will be able to freely come to my hometown again, walk around the places that are dear to me, remember my childhood and smile.

“I want all of us to have a peaceful sky above our heads. I also want people to know the truth. It is a pity that the voices of people from Donetsk and Lugansk were not heard all this time,” concluded Goliadkina, adding the hashtags ‘For Peace’ and ‘We don’t abandon our own’.

Goliadkina has proudly flown the flag for Russia since moving to the country, and has helped the nation’s imperious synchronized swimming team become even stronger.

Tokyo yielded a maiden Olympic gold for Goliadkina, who gave an emotional speech in front of President Vladimir Putin when Russian athletes were welcomed by the Kremlin upon their return.

“Today I am happy that I can stand here, next to you, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], and say out loud that I have defended the honor of a great country. This means great happiness for me,” Goliadkina said.

“Taking this opportunity, I want to thank you for supporting sport, for believing in us, and for the fact that we were able to train at the best modern sports facilities that allowed us to win.”

After sharing a photo alongside Putin, Goliadkina appeared to come in for criticism from some in Ukraine, later issuing a riposte by issuing another photo of herself with a Russian flag while apparently on holiday in Crimea.

“Guess where I’m on vacation? Hello to the haters,” wrote Goliadkina in the caption to the now-deleted post.

READ MORE: ‘Hello to the haters’: Ukraine-born Olympic swim champ Goliadkina poses with Russian flag after anger over Putin pic (PHOTOS)