Ukrainian gymnasts make harrowing journey to safety

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — Nine Ukrainian gymnasts who fled their war-torn country are now safely settled in the U.S. after months of travel.

It’s been a journey that’s taken these young gymnasts from Poland, to Colombia, to Mexico, and finally, to the U.S. all in an attempt to find safety from the Russian attack they never believed was possible.

“They bombed civilians, buildings, and it were awful and scary.” said gymnast Alina Salmnova.

The gymnasts, who are a part of their country’s national team, are now safely settled in San Diego, and for the first time since their journey began getting a chance to practice their gymnastics routine.

Arina Zemlyanko says her home suffered a direct hit from a Russian rocket, losing the only home she’s known in her 17 years.

“The rocket hit on our flat,” Zemlyanko said. “Now I don’t have a flat.”

The gymnasts have been given access to the Alliant gymnasium to continue their practices.

But the planes flying overhead and the banging of basketballs is still unnerving to them after living under a barrage of Russian artillery.

Even with the uncertainty, these young athletes are steadfast and supporting their families still in the war, and extremely proud of their nation.

“We are brave people and we can continue training and represent our Ukraine in sport,” Salmnova said. “We can’t fight for Ukraine, but we can help like in this way.”

Fundraisers are being set up so the athletes can continue performing for their country. 

NewsNation affiliate KSWB contributed to this report.

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