Able2Do Anything: Achievements

Injured Ukrainian servicemen gearing up for London Marathon

Georgiy Roshka and Oleksiy Rudenko

Georgiy Roshka and Oleksiy Rudenko served as Ukrainian soldiers, after life-changing injuries both men were forced to step down from duty - but this weekend they are back in action running the London Marathon.

Both became amputees in combat, Roshka [32] had his arm amputated in a bunker during the siege of Azovstal, Rudenko [28] stepped on a mine in eastern Ukraine losing his left leg.

On Sunday they will take part in the prestigious 42km event around London using prosthetics in their first marathon.

Mr Rudenko told PA news agency: “We are very eager to start. We’re ready and we’re not afraid.

“I want as many people as possible to see that Ukrainians can beat the marathon even without limbs and that we are unbreakable and unstoppable.” 

He joined the Ukrainian army in 2017 after Russia occupied Crimea.

Five years later, in May 2022, the serviceman was on duty in the Azovstal steel plant, now under Russian occupation.

It was there when his life changed forever after he was hit by a mine.

Rudenko had no option but to retreat to a bunker in the steel plant where he had one of his arms amputated.

Within two weeks he was forced to surrender when he was taken captive with his comrades.

“People were in a very bad situation so we were just waiting there for the final moment of our life because no-one thought there was going to be survival,” he told the news outlet.

“Some people decided it was going to be maybe easier to shoot themselves because it was a desperate situation.”

Rudenko was on duty in Donetsk for six months before he stepped on the mine during a combat mission.

“We were walking through a forest and we de-mined three mines but the fourth mine was hidden under the ground. It wasn’t visible so I stood on it,” he explained.

“Then after the explosion I saw that my leg was gone so I quickly applied a tourniquet and we decided to fall back.

“I was taken to Kyiv first and underwent nine operations and when I spoke to the doctor I asked them if I could run after the amputation.

“The doctor said that in order to run, I would need a sports prosthetic so to do that they needed to cut the upper leg so this is why I had another operation to cut the leg even more.”

It took him five months to adapt to his new prosthetic leg.

He added: “The first couple of weeks you have to walk 12 minutes a day on prosthetics but I didn’t care and I walked two or three hours. You really need to move. If you move a lot, it’s easier to adapt.”

After being forced to stand down, Rudenko took up a new role as an army instructor.

Mr Roshka was held captive for a month and a half in a hospital in Donetsk until he was eventually released as a prisoner swap.

“I lost a lot of blood so I didn’t really care at the moment we were taken captive. I felt really, really bad and I didn’t really care what happened next,” he said.

“During captivity itself, it was really hard. We were humiliated both physically and mentally. We were hit and verbally abused.

“When the arm was amputated in Azovstal the conditions were really bad and I couldn’t properly treat it there and in captivity I didn’t get good healthcare so the arm started to rot.”

When he was put on a bus heading to Ukraine Roshka feared the worst, but when he realised it was a journey to freedom the serviceman was filled with “happiness”.

“We started to have faith and then once we saw the Ukrainian flag, almost everyone started crying and we were really happy,” he said.

Looking ahead to the London Marathon Roshka said: “This is not only a test of my character, but also an opportunity for me to support my fellow brothers who were seriously wounded.”

[ The servicemen are running the London Marathon to raise money for the Citizen Charity Foundation. ]

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