KIEV (Reuters) – Six-times world pole vault champion Sergei Bubka has told Reuters he hopes the success of Euro 2012 will help bring the Olympic Games to Ukraine.
Bubka, president of the Ukrainian Olympic committee, spoke passionately about the Ukrainian team’s achievements and the social importance of sport in the politically troubled country which wildly celebrated the co-hosts’ 2-1 victory over Sweden in their opening match of the tournament.
“For me, my personal dream is that one day it would be great to host the games here,” Bubka told Reuters on Friday.
“Ukraine is a strong Olympic sport country, and for me the Olympic movement and sport is my life. Of course I am dreaming and looking forward.”
Though Bubka would love Ukraine to host the summer games, to be held this year in London, he said staging the winter Olympics in Karpaty was perhaps more realistic and that political support for such an event existed.
“Last year our president Mr Yanukovic said the future might be Karpaty, because in winter sport we need to have a boost. We need to have infrastructure. We’re strong in summer Olympic sports, but for winter? In the past we are not a winter country.”
Bubka said Ukrainian athletes had won 603 Olympic medals, many of those coming when representing the old Soviet Union.
Despite being the world record-holder and dominating the pole vault for many years, Bubka won only one Olympic gold, at Seoul in 1988.
The burly 48-year-old said he enjoyed watching Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko’s two quickfire headers which sealed the dramatic opening Euro 2012 victory over Sweden.
“Before the game (against Sweden) I told people that I was sure of one thing – the team in yellow and blue would win. Of course, they both wear yellow and blue,” he quipped.
He said he was also looking forward to the London Olympics but not sure how successful his compatriots would be.
“How many medals? I’m never able to answer that. I wish for as many as possible and I know that every athlete on our team is very proud to be in London, and of course we wish them luck.
“I don’t see any athlete who doesn’t want to win, but what happens? Let’s wait and see.”
By Ed Osmond