ANDREY TOROSHANKO – Karate in the eye of war
He lives in a war-torn Ukraine and experiences everything from bombings to hour-long power outages and the heat and water being turned off. With six EC medals in his bag, he is now once again ready to win even more medals.
Andrey Toroshanko was born in 1998 and grew up in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Already at the age of six, he started practicing karate.
– At the age of seven, I started competing at the championship in my hometown. I started practicing karate for general physical development. As a child, I had no intention of practicing karate professionally, he says, adding:
– My first club was Sen Bin Karate Team and I still train there today.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th this year, Andrey continues to live and train in his hometown.
– When the war started, I was in Irpin, a town near Kyiv. There was an airfield nearby and an aerial combat began there. Helicopters and fighter jets flew around and there were several explosions. The situation was scary and I didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately, Andrey has the opportunity to continue training together with his teammates. However, their training conditions can be very challenging.
– We have a large team with about twenty athletes and continue to train in Kyiv. When there is no light, we practice with flashlights.
I ask him how he feels about the surreal situation he finds himself in now and whether karate can offer any kind of peace of mind.
– Now the situation in Ukraine is bad. Russia often bombards cities with rockets. They also fire rockets at critical infrastructure. There are major problems with electricity in Kyiv. Every day we are without electricity for eight to ten hours. Sometimes even the water and heat are turned off, he says and adds:
– When one’s country is at war, it is very difficult. There is no peace of mind right now.
If the grotesque invasion continues, there is a risk that Andrey will also be forced to become part of the madness going forward.
– I can’t be drafted into the army right now because I’m currently in school. When I finish my studies, I might be drafted there.
Despite the enormous difficulties that Andrey and his compatriots face on a daily basis back in Ukraine, he has been able to continue traveling around the world to participate in karate competitions. The goal going forward is clear. He wants to position himself well at next year’s European Championships. The form points upwards but has potential for improvement.
– This year I have performed enough. I attended all the Premier League events except in Rabat. Competed in Serie A twice and also participated in the Ukrainian championship, he says and continues:
– I’m in good shape right now but can improve it even more. My goal for next year is to win a medal at the European Championships. In sports, it is difficult to predict anything, but I will do my best to perform as well as possible.
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