SAN DIEGO – Nine Ukrainian gymnasts from the country’s national team have now safely settled in San Diego after months of travel.
Their journey abruptly started when the Russian army invaded their country, destroying some of their homes.
“They bombed civilian buildings. It’s very awful and we are scared,” said Alina Salmnova, a member of the Ukrainian rhythmic gymnastics national team.
The fathers and mothers of the gymnasts are still fighting back in Ukraine or are supporting their communities in the war-torn country.
Arina Zemlyanko says her home suffered a direct hit from a Russian rocket.
“The rocket hit on our flat,” Zemlyanko said. “Now I don’t have a flat.”
The 17-year-old says she has only known that home and now she is in a strange county, living off the charity of strangers.
The nine athletes’ ages range from 13 to 20 and have been settled for a few weeks at a donated home.
Despite the uncertainty the girls are facing, they returned to the gym this week, training for national championships scheduled all over the world.
Fundraisers are being set up so the girls can continue performing for their country.