Oleksii Sereda, a diver
I do not understand how a terrorist country can be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games
05.01.2024 14:27

Five years ago, the public discovered diver Oleksii Sereda. Then, the 13-year-old athlete made a record and became the youngest champion of Europe in the history of competitions. Since then, he emerged as one of the leaders of the national team and won one more European championship. Oleksii, together with Kseniia Bailo and Sofiia Lyskun, was awarded a medal at the World Cup, and, together with Kyrylo Boliukh, he became a silver medallist at the World Championship in 2023. At his first Olympic Games in Tokyo, Sereda became one of the six best divers in the world. A lot of hopes are being anchored on Oleksii before the Paris Olympics, so he has to always be in good shape.

Oleksii is from Mykolaiv, and the athlete’s parents still live there. The house of the diver’s parents was damaged during a Russian shelling. The athlete always reiterates that Russians and Belarusians should not be allowed to participate in the competitions, calls for sanctions against the representatives of terrorist countries, and makes postings calling to donate to the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

In his interview with Ukrinform, he talked about his impressions of 2023, shared his future plans, and explained why Russians and Belarusians should not be allowed to participate in sports competitions, even as neutrals.


– How will you remember the year 2023?

Sports-related elements affect my life too much, that’s why I would mostly evaluate this year from this standpoint. It wasn’t bad, as Kyryl Boliukh and I got silver medals at the World Championship. It is a really impressive achievement for me, of which I’m proud. Kyryl and I managed to show our qualifications at a serious tournament. At the same time, I can’t claim that the year 2023 was good, as there is still a war against Russia in Ukraine. Everyone is having a hard time because of this, although I understand that it’s the hardest for guys and girls at the front. We have nothing to complain about at all.

Which competition of that year do you remember the most?

– The World Championship, I guess. First of all, we were in Japan, and I like this country’s culture, in particular, its cuisine and anime. Sometimes I even watch various videos about Japan. The World Championship took place there. The silver medal was my first medal at the World Championship in the Olympic discipline, which makes it especially valuable.

– Did you have a talk with Kyryl about this result? What was your reaction to the second place?

– I noticed that the Europeans were more emotional in this respect. We, instead, are more restrained. We greeted each other after the final competition and moved on to work. We have the Olympic season ahead. The Olympic Games will be our main start, so we placed no special emphasis on the World Championship.

– How did you change during the year, both physically and psychologically?

– Some physical changes always take place, but this time I do not notice them, as my intensive growth period is over. Nor did I notice any mental changes because we have a stable life as we work, improve ourselves, and refine our skills. I think you should better ask my coaches as they can evaluate my work from the outside.

– In general, are you satisfied with yourself this year?

– I would give myself seven points out of ten.


– You make regular postings on social media to raise funds for our military. Why is it important?

– I am the citizen of Ukraine! A war is going on in my country, and I want to help our defenders. I am not at the front now, but I am trying to be useful. My friends are at war, and so I know where the donations raised by my postings are going. I donate there myself, I know they will help kill invaders. I try to help as much as possible as donations are an investment in the future of Ukraine and its next generations. I want the war to end as quickly as possible with our victory so that we may return all our prisoners.

Earlier I believed, you know, that it would be cool to live abroad. Then I started traveling and visited countries in Europe and Asia and realised that it was really best to live in Ukraine. We all belong here, it’s comfortable, cozy and calm here at home. Our team lived in Germany for four months. It was then that I understood that I was out of my element, although my friends were next to me, and we had all the facilities for living. Furthermore, I would like to stress that we are loved, waited for, and accepted only in Ukraine. We should align ourselves with our country.

– Did you visit Mykolaiv this year?

– Yes, I went there in summer. I will go there for the New Year, for several days, to see my family.

– What has changed in your city over two years of the full-scale war?

– When I came there, I saw the results of the Russian missile strikes, in particular, the damaged, bombed buildings. I believe my native city will change after our victory. I can also say that there are more people in the city as they are gradually returning.

– You have told us that your family house had been damaged due to Russian strikes. Has your father managed to repair it?

– He has renovated it, but not in full. My father managed to repair the roof so that it’s not cold inside anymore.


– Given the fact that Russia has started a war against Ukraine, it is killing the Ukrainians, and it has destroyed your parents’ house and your native city, what would you say to people from the International Olympic Committee who permitted the Russians to participate in the Olympics as neutrals?

– I do not understand at all how a terrorist country can be allowed to participate in the Olympic Games. All the Russian athletes who are members of CSKA (the central sports club of the Armed Forces at the Ministry of Defense, ed.) posted photos of themselves in military uniform and with machine guns on social media. We cannot turn a blind eye to this. I always emphasise that on the social media and when I’m interviewed by foreign journalists. Frankly, I cannot understand how they can allow the participation in the Olympic Games of people who pay taxes to produce missiles that attack my country, my city, and my house.

– How do you focus on training and competitions amid the war that is going on?

– I am aware that I must show good results at competitions and remind the whole world that the war is still going on and the Ukrainians should be assisted. Because of this, you have to distract yourself when you need to focus and concentrate. It is about competitions and training only. At any other time, I recommend that you make donations!

– You are one of the leaders of the Ukrainian country team. How would you describe the team’s atmosphere?

– It’s atmosphere is as much friendly as possible! Everyone supports each other, they joke and motivate each other, and that is why it’s easy to work there! We try to be united in times like these. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, we have all become more responsible for our activities because we are aware of an opportunity to convey important information about Ukraine to the world.

– What are you working on in training now?

– I work on synchronised and individual diving and on complex jumps. It’s not about water only, but also about being in a sports hall. Only comprehensive approach gives me an opportunity to improve myself.

– Are you just perfecting your program, will there be no changes?

– Yes, I have made all jumps that I needed. Now I have to stabilise my program.

– How many hours a week do you train?

– We have ten training sessions a week lasting three hours each. We train even on holidays. We must continuously improve ourselves. Sunday is our only day off. We have a large team of coaches, masseurs, and choreographers, and all of them work with us towards results. To sum up, I would say that we have everything to achieve the desired results!


– Ukraine’s diving country team represents, in fact, a new generation of Ukrainian athletes. You haven’t seen the hyped-up Soviet school, and you know only the independent Ukraine. How, in your opinion, sports should develop in Ukraine.

– Our sport has a bright future. We have ambitious athletes and coaches, and Ihor Lysov, the Federation’s President, has, in my opinion, arranged work in the correct manner and created the perfect environment for our development. It is the combination of these factors and an excellent pool that makes me think so. Our objective is to make our sport popular as much as possible. The children that belong to our diving school are motivated, and this fact makes me rejoice. They have a passion for work and achieving results. I cannot exclude that someone from our team will also become a coach in the future. You can train and analyse the process, and you can improve yourself in this respect.

We, indeed, have no Soviet mentality. Democracy exists even in sports. Each of us communicates with the coach, who listens to us and heeds our opinions. They hear us, it is very important, and we are pleased. Furthermore, we have no dictatorship, and nobody presses on us. By the way, earlier, when the Russians attended competitions, I was witnessing this “famous” school. Everyone walks there with a stony face, and coaches holler at their trainees and even indulge in beating their divers with slippers. 

– What are your objectives and plans for 2024?

– We will have three starts in the new year: The World Championship, the Olympic Games, and the European Championship. I’d want to win a medal in each of these tournaments.

– In your opinion, what will the new year be like for the Ukrainians?

– I hope it will be a year of victory for Ukraine! I wish we would win, and then we can figure everything out, and we will help each other as we are surely capable of that!

Vitalii Tkachuk, Kyiv

Photo by the Press Service of the Diving Federation, WA, European Games 2023

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