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13 Jul. 2023


Ukrainian Olympic champions: women admired by the whole world of sports



Ukrainian Olympic champions: women admired by the whole world of sports

Women gained the right to participate in the Olympic Games exactly 115 years ago. Find out more about modern Ukrainian athletes who compete for medals for Ukraine on an equal footing with men

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Today, the participation of women in the Olympic Games is not surprising, but back in the 20th century, women athletes fought for their right to participate in sports. Thus, on July 13, 1908, exactly 115 years ago, a historic event took place in London - the opening of the Fourth Olympic Games. This date was a new step in women's struggle for equality. It was the first time in the history of the Olympic Games that women were given the opportunity to participate in sports competitions. 

Today, Ukrainian athletes continue to make a name for themselves in the world of sports and inspire others with their achievements. These women demonstrate extraordinary talent, dedication, strength, hard work, and a thirst for victory. Learn more about the Ukrainian athletes who have won medals at the Olympic Games and deserve to be called champions.

Read more about outstanding Ukrainian athletes who have made the country famous on the international sports scene here.

Women's sports: how it all started


Swimming and gymnastics were officially recognized as women's sports at the Fourth Olympic Games in London in 1908. This was the impetus for the further development of women's sports and encouraged women to participate in sports competitions.

In 1928, women's track and field was introduced for the first time at the Amsterdam Olympics. This paved the way for many talented female athletes to prove their abilities in this discipline.

Over the next decades, women in world sports faced challenges and fought to be on equal terms with men. This is how women's world championships and new sports emerged, giving women the opportunity to compete and showcase their talents.

Ukrainian Olympic champions of today


Today, Ukrainian athletes have reached an incredible level. They take part in various Olympic competitions and perform in other international sports arenas. Many of them are true icons and role models for young women, inspiring them to pursue their dreams, regardless of gender.

Yulia Levchenko

Ukrainian track and field athlete, silver medalist at the World Championships and champion of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Her best results are 2.02 m indoors and 2.02 m outdoors, and she holds the junior national record.

In May 2016, the athlete won a gold medal at the IAAF Games in Germany and finished third at the U20 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. In March 2017, she became a bronze medalist at the European Winter Championships in Belgrade, becoming the first woman in the history of Ukraine to win a medal at a winter championship.

In June of the same year, Levchenko won bronze at the Diamond League in Rome and was awarded the title of "Young Star" at the European Athletics Association ceremony in Vilnius. She also won a silver medal at the World Athletics Championships in London.

Yana Shemyakina


Ukrainian epee fencer, international master of sports, world cadet champion in 2002, European junior champion in 2004 and 2005, individual champion and bronze medalist in the team championship; two-time champion of the 2007 World University in Bangkok; gold medalist of the 2009 Universiade in Belgrade; bronze medalist of the 2009 European Championships.

Yana Shemyakina's career culminated in her victory at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Having shown great skill and determination in the face of strong rivals, she won a gold medal in the women's individual epee. This great achievement not only proved her outstanding sporting talent, but also brought fame and recognition to Ukrainian sport.

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Elina Svitolina

The most successful athlete in the history of Ukrainian tennis, the highest-ranked Ukrainian tennis player in the world rankings and the only athlete to reach the semifinals in singles at a Grand Slam tournament.

Svitolina is the third ranked singles player in the world in the WTA rankings of 2017, 2018 and 2019. She has 17 singles and two doubles victories in WTA tournaments.

From the 2016 Summer Olympics to November 2019, she won all six matches in a row against the then world number one, defeating Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber (three times) and Simona Halep (twice). At the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, she won a bronze medal. Today, Evelina is considered the fifth racket in the world.

Daria Bilodid

Bilodid became the youngest world champion in the history of judo at the age of 17. She also won the first gold medal in the history of Ukrainian women's judo at the World Championships. A year later, she repeated this achievement and became a world champion twice.

Bilodid also won a gold medal at the second European Games. Daria Bilodid won her first medal for Ukraine at the Tokyo Olympics on July 24, 2021. The 20-year-old athlete won a bronze medal in the 48 kg weight category.

Anzhelika Terliukha


Ukrainian karateka, silver medalist of the 2020 Olympic Games. Honored Master of Sports of Ukraine; competed in the weight category up to 55 kg.

Anzhelika has climbed to the podium three times at European Championships: twice in team kumite in 2017 and 2019. In the individual competition, she won gold in 2018. And at the 2019 European Championships and the 2020 Olympic Games, she won silver medals.

Iryna Merleni


Ukrainian athlete, Olympic champion in the lightest weight category in freestyle wrestling. Merleni started wrestling at an early age and showed exceptional talent in this sport. A responsible, strong-willed and strong professional athlete, she was twice nominated by the International Wrestling Federation as the "Face of Women's Freestyle Wrestling".

She became the first champion in freestyle wrestling shortly after its inclusion in the Olympic program and is a three-time world champion and two-time European champion. She won a gold medal in the lightest weight category in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she represented Ukraine.

Olga Harlan

Ukrainian sabre fencer, Olympic champion in 2008, silver medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games, bronze medalist at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games (individual competition). Six-time world champion, eight-time European champion, Honored Master of Sports in sabre fencing.

Olga has set a record for a Ukrainian fencer, having won 4 Olympic medals, 15 World Championship medals and 20 European Championship medals in her sports career.

Olga Harlan is a five-time absolute World Cup champion (2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020). The NOC of Ukraine has recognized her as the Athlete of the Year four times (2008, 2009, 2016, 2017).

We are proud of Ukrainian athletes, their strength, will and unbreakable spirit! Their determination and resilience are the embodiment of the Ukrainian people!

We remind you! In a recent match against Germany, the players of the Ukrainian national football team once again demonstrated that they are able to compete with the top teams in Europe. Read about the other times when the Ukrainian team demonstrated a spectacular result against the best national teams here.

Main photo: Dylan Martinez (Reuters)

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