Kristina Stryzhak, Ukrainian athlete: I live a life I've never imagined

I don't think much about training, but I will prepare for the championship, says Ukrainian athlete Kristina Stryzhak. The organizers of the MTBO World Championship in Jičín will provide her with free accommodation and entry fee.

Kristina, how are you currently living?

I'm living a life I've never imagined. A Russian drone caused a fire in my physiotherapist office on New Year's Day. Now I work as a physiotherapist in a hospital where Ukrainian soldiers are treated, it takes most of my time and energy. Then I see patients in my office in the afternoon. We didn't get much sleep last week, the air defense was working near our house. I heard rockets and drones and you can't rest. I'm not complaining, this is our reality. My mother fled to America, and I have a brother in Zaporizhia, which is only 30 kilometers from the territory occupied by Russia.

How did you get into MTBO racing?

I dedicated myself to all kinds of cycling - marathon races, road races, I rode enduro. My husband opened the door to the MTBO world for me, but I already knew a little about what I was getting myself into because I used to do foot-o.

So it all came together perfectly?

Yes. The community around MTBO means many beautiful memories and friends to me. I remember the Pilsen five-day races the most. What I enjoy about MTBO racing is that you have to think, use your brain and make decisions, not just pedal.

How can a country at war prepare for the World Cup?

Training is really sporadic, any races are canceled in Ukraine, so you don't have the motivation to get up early in the morning and leave for training. But the World Championship is relatively far away, I know how to prepare for it. The problem is the map training, the best ones are behind the borders and traveling is difficult. I'm going to Doksy for 5 days MTBO and hopefully I'll make it to the races in Poland.

Do you know the surroundings of Jičín or Podkrkonoší, where the world championships will be held?

I have never been to Jičín, but I was in Jablonné in Podještědí, where the Malevil cycling marathon took place, which I managed to win. But the Czech terrain suits me, it will definitely be great.

Are you safe where you live, Kristina?

Nowhere in Ukraine is safe as long as Russia keeps sending missiles and drones at us. A year ago, I received a temporary visa and refugee status in the Czech Republic. I lived in Pilsen. I felt 100% safe there. I slept well, the sirens didn't wake me up. You are very lucky to live in peace, cherish it. And many thanks to everyone in the Czech Republic for the support and help, it really means a lot to us.

Kristina, we look forward to seeing you in Jičín. Until then, take care and stay safe.


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