For Lidiia Mallicka, it was an escape into the unknown. Now, the Ukrainian Junior Champion has found a new sporting home in the Rhineland-Palatinate cycling team. At least for now.
“I hope to be able to go home soon,” the 19-year-old told SWR Sport. Her shirt in Ukrainian national colors leaves no room for doubt: “Stop the war” is written in large letters on the back and on the front of Lydia Malika’s crest. “Stop the war.” She is thoughtful, yet clear in her message: “I would like to express my hope that the war will end and that peace will eventually return.”
Escape into the unknown
The Russian invasion of her country completely changed the life of the Ukrainian entry-level motorcycle champion. Her only option was to escape. “It took three days,” she said softly. “We didn’t even know where we were going.” Fear and uncertainty drove her when she left Kharkiv with her mother and sister. Through Poland we went to Germany. They ended up staying with a host family in Hessian Odenwald – a stroke of luck in the end. “Because someone knew something about cycling and got Frank Ziegler in touch,” Lydia Mallika recalls and smiles.
This stupid war.
Frank Ziegler is just meters away and has just introduced the new season cycling team Rhineland-Palatinate. There was no doubt that he would host the Ukraine young champion as a guest driver. “She can train with us, we take her to the competition. She must enjoy the time, she must use the time,” said the successful coach from Otterbach. Thanks to his work at the Heinrich-Heine-Elite-Gymnasium in Kaiserslautern, Lidiia Malecka also has the opportunity to go to school and learn German intensively. Ziegler’s message is unmistakable: “We don’t just want to focus on performance, we want to show solidarity. Especially in these difficult times, with this crazy and stupid war. We want to send a signal that we’re ready to help people they don’t care about and give them a home so they can think better. different and they don’t have to think about war every day.”
Pentecost race in Dudenhofen
The solidarity of the cycling scene continues. The Ukrainian national team travels to the Palatinate these days. Your goal: the International White Monday race at RV Dudenhofen. “The Ukrainian team is registered with 18 athletes,” says Clemens Spekermann, president of the traditional club. On June 6, cycling enthusiasts will once again make a pilgrimage to the exciting races in the “Bathtub”, as the concrete track in Dudenhofen is affectionately called. But the desire to help outstrips competition.
Overcome trauma with sports
“In addition to the great importance of sport for social coexistence, I am convinced of the even greater importance of international understanding,” confirms Spekerman. He has been involved in the sport on a volunteer basis for more than 40 years, most recently by transporting aid to Ukrainian refugees to Poland. “From there we were able to bring two women with their four children to Germany. And when it comes to overcoming the traumatic experiences of war,” Spiekermann says emphatically, “children’s immediate participation in the sporting communities helps too.”
laden with homesickness
Lidiia Mallicka is happy to have arrived in the Palatinate cycling family. However, she openly admits: “I feel homesick.” At the Whit Monday race in Dudenhofen, she will once again try to focus on her athletic talents. But every round is accompanied by a desire for peace and a return home. “Stop the war.” It is no coincidence that a big heart under the appeal is decorated on Lydia Mallika’s shirt.