By Nick Butler

Sergey Bubka insists sport is a major way to produce peace ©Getty ImagesSergey Bubka, the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine President, has again claimed sport can transform communities, bring people together and be used as a means of positive change.

This comes after months of unrest in Bubka's native Ukraine, during which the country has descended into a bloody conflict in which further division appears inevitable. 

But Bubka, the 50-year-old pole vault outdoor world record holder from Donetsk, who is also an Executive Board member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has claimed sport remains vital despite the problems currently engulfing his country.

"It's true that Ukraine is going through a difficult period and there are many challenges to address," Bubka, also a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), told Calacus. 

"But it is my job to ensure that sport continues to be used as a tool for positive development both within Ukraine and around the world.

"Sport has been my life and I learnt so many lessons about discipline, respect, dedication and collaboration through my sporting experiences.

"But I also saw the dreams of many taken away when boycotts were held ahead of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.

"It is one of the darkest episodes of my life and I am determined to do all I can to ensure no athlete is denied the opportunity to compete at the highest level because of politics.

"Even during Sochi 2014, the Ukraine Olympic team continued to compete and hopefully raised spirits and united our compatriots back home."
The biathlon gold medal won by Ukraine at Sochi 2014 came as the nation was in the grip of conflict ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe biathlon gold medal won by Ukraine at Sochi 2014 came as the nation was in the grip of conflict ©AFP/Getty Images

Despite unrest which left over 100 people dead during the Games, the Ukrainian team chose to stay on and compete in Sochi.

They were duly awarded when Vita and Valja Semerenko, Julia Dhzyma and Olena Pidhrushna won the biathlon relay, the country's first Winter Olympic gold medal in the biathlon since Oksana Baiul won the ladies figure skating title at Lillehammer 1994.

Bubka afterwards called for the win to "unite Ukraine and bring peace" and he now plans to work further for the development of sport for this purpose.

"I have discussed my vision at length with IOC President Thomas Bach, IAAF President Lamine Diack and many others within our international family of sport," he said.

"We all serve a common purpose: to protect the integrity of sport, to engage with young people to ensure that we do not lose a generation for whom a sedentary lifestyle is now more tempting and available than ever before, and to inspire new and existing audiences through participation and support."

The full interview on the Calacus Public Relations website can be accessed here

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