Every day Maryna Mazhula goes out to train she worries it may be her last.

The four-time paracanoe world champion lives in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, the scene of one of the more intense battles of the war with Russia. Despite the dangers, Mazhula has stayed home, training every day while war rages around her.

“Where I’m training there are problems,” Mazhula said.

“In Ukraine there is war, and in Mykolaiv every day there is shelling and bombing. I see it, because I live very high, and I can see what is happening. It is terrible and I’m really scared, but it’s my home, and I must train because I have to go to Paris and win gold.

“I just hope that my angels save me.”

Mazhula has not been beaten in the women’s KL1 since 2018. In fact her only major defeat in that time hurt the most – she lost to Germany’s Edina Mueller at the Tokyo Paralympics, a result that has driven the Ukrainian to stare down the every day dangers on her way to preparing for paddling revenge in Paris.

“In the championships I was first, and I want to be first here,” she said.

I’m training everywhere, all the time. I really really want to take first place in the Paralympic Games. My win is a win for Ukraine. My friends and family always ring me with support.”

Mazhula looked in good form in Duisburg on Thursday, cruising into the women’s KL1 final. Despite everything going on all around her, she said she has had a good preparation.

Giving her extra incentive to do well, Thursday was Independence Day in Ukraine. Some years it carries extra significance.