Watching the Paralympic Games today, I was overwhelmed by the emotions it unleashed.

While I was rooting for all of the incredible athletes who have been training for years and waiting for their moment and of course, those athletes from my own country of Canada, I was struck by a deep inexplicable emotion as I watched the Ukrainian athletes compete with such courage, boldness, determination and athleticism.

How they managed to compete while their country was at war, I will never know. Many of their loved ones were huddled in underground shelters; other loved ones were dealing with famine, explosions and trying to escape the horrors.

In spite of the worry and fear for their loved ones and country, the Ukrainian athletes not only competed, but were outstanding in their categories.

Questions poured forth as the Paralympics came to a close: are these men and women safe? Will they be? In the closing ceremonies, reference was made to these questions and subtle messages were given to assure the world that the Ukrainian athletes would be safe as they left the Paralympics and China.

This night and in the coming days, along with praying for the people of Ukraine, my prayers will be focused on each of the Ukrainian Paralympic athletes, their coaches and team members from Ukraine.

As their bodies recover from the incredible physical strain of the Paralympic competitions; as their minds and spirits deal with the horrors of what they, their loved ones, and country face; and as they try to absorb the incredible mixture of emotions they have been and are now experiencing, may each of them be safe.

© June Maffin

Photo: © Ariel Pilotto (used with permission via Unsplash)