The Shakhtar sports palace is one of the oldest in Donetsk, the biggest city of the Ukrainian separatist republics. Despite the war going on just a few miles away, it fills up with prospective future champions every afternoon. While the girls are focussing on acrobatics, the boys are weightlifting, boxing and practising gymnastics on an incredible level. They all know that only those who work the hardest will make it to the top and become the next champion. Although the separatist leaders use sports as a tool for propaganda and nation building purposes, the professional future of these young athletes looks pale. Nobody knows if they will ever be able to compete internationally stemming from a republic that no other nation recognizes.
(longread by Jutta Sommerbauer and full picture edit available upon request)