News of Yaroslava Mahuchikh's world indoor high jump win inspired Ukraine's front line soldiers during the defence of Kyiv following the Russian invasion ©Getty Images

The President of the Ukrainian Athletics Association, Yevhen Pronin, has revealed that soldiers on the front line defending their country against the Russia invasion were inspired by news of Yaroslava Mahuchikh’s world indoor high jump victory.

Mahuchikh, 20, won gold on March 19 at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, having had to leave her home in Dnipropretrovsk because of Russian bombardment, and after making a three-day car journey to reach the Serbian capital.

The high jumper had called the event her own "front line."

Speaking after he received the World Athletics President’s Award in Rome last week from Sebastian Coe, Pronin recalled: "It was emotional for me, because it was March 19 and the Russian Army was near Kyiv, and I communicated with our soldiers.

"They sent me photos of Yaroslava Mahuchikh. And I asked them, ‘to look at live athletics on the front line, why?’ And they answer me - ‘because it’s like, 99 per cent of news is bad, and of course if you can get one per cent of good news, you must do it.’”

Pronin also revealed that the initial reaction of his Association was to withdraw from international competition before the policy was reversed three days later.

"We had been in a little bit of a panic," he said.

"But then we decided that our flag must be seen in all the world competitions, and our anthem heard."

Ukraine athletes have been represented at all the World Athletics series events this season, as well as the European Athletics Championships in Munich 2022, with conspicuous success.

Mahuchikh added world outdoor silver and European gold to her collection, while her team-mate Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk won world indoor silver and European gold in the triple jump.

Pronin added that plans were already in hand to maintain the Ukrainian athletes’ international presence next year, mentioning numerous training camps throughout Europe that had enabled competitors to prepare.

"We have also started a project for the re-location of our young talent in the United States on January 12," he said.

The full story can be found in this week's Big Read