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How the Ukrainian Special Olympics team found hope through training

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(NEW YORK) — As the war rages around them, the Ukrainian Special Olympics team is showcasing their indomitable spirit, staying incredibly focused on the opportunity to compete at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.

ABC News’ partner, ESPN, was given exclusive access to the team as they trained for the big event.

“This is not a normal situation when the training takes place during the war,” said Oleksándr Redozúbov, a gymnastics coach.

The athletes trained in complete darkness with the use of flashlights, practiced routines over Zoom, and even ran drills in bomb shelters during air raids.

“When the air raids begins, everything is buzzing, planes are flying, I immediately run into the corridor. I sit and wait for it to end,” said gymnast Mariánna Akhrárova.

This week, the Ukrainian athletes loaded up on buses to make the over 15-hour drive out of Ukraine, through Poland, and into Germany.

While it’s been over a year since Russia invaded their home country, the war has never dimmed the athlete’s spirits. Now, the team is ready to not only bring home a medal but to represent Ukraine.

“I am proud to go to Berlin,” said Akhrárova.

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