On February 24 Viktoriia Dobrotvorska was woken by the sound of her phone going crazy, as news broke that her country was under attack from Russian forces.

Dobrotvorska was safe in neighbouring Poland at a canoe slalom training camp. But her five-year-old daughter, her husband and her parents were back in Ukraine.

I opened my phone and started to read the terrible news, that Russia had attacked Ukraine with a lot of bombs, and at that moment everything changed,” Dobrotvorska said.

I panicked. I went to my coach and asked him to take me to the border, I don’t care how, you should take me to the border. I will pass the border, I will go home….

It was at this moment Viktoriia Dobrotvorska, not for the last time, had to stop to fight back tears, as she recalled the terror of not knowing if her family were safe.

After a series of stressful phone calls the 29-year-old organised to travel to Lviv, a Ukrainian city just 70 kilometres from the Polish border, where she would meet her husband, her daughter and her mother.

After an emotional reunion, the challenge of getting back to Poland and to safety began. For 24 hours Viktoriia and her family slept at the Lviv railway station, hoping a train would eventually take them away from the bombs and the destruction.

You can hear more about Viktoriia’s escape from Ukraine, and her fears for her husband and father left behind, in her interview with the ICF.

The ICF has set up a Go Fund me account to raise money for Ukrainian athletes, coaches and their families caught up in this horrific attack. People wishing to donate via bank transfer can send money to the following account details below.

You can donate via our GoFundMe here


Alternatively donate using the bank details below.

Beneficiary International Canoe Federation
Address: Avenue de Rhodanie 54, CH 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland

IBAN CH97 0875 7000 0120 5339 1
Clearing 8757
Please include the reference 'Support for UCF'

This account is in € euros and any other currencies will be converted
Bank address: Bank Vontobel AG, Gotthardstrasse 43, CH – 8022 Zurich, Switzerland


The Polish canoeing community is already leading the way, providing accommodation, meals and training facilities for a group of displaced athletes, including Viktoriia Dobrotvorska.

We are really grateful, because they said we could stay as long as we wanted, and they provided food, they’ve let us train for free. And now we are still here,” Dobrotvorska said.

Several athletes have also expressed their disgust at public messages from the Russian Canoe Federation supporting their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ICF has already banned all Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from all ICF events, meetings, committees and forums, and has also stripped Russia of the three events scheduled to be held there in 2022.

Support the Ukrainian athletes

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