The largest ever Ukrainian team will be running, jumping, walking and throwing in Beijing. A total of 73 athletes (30 men and 43 women) make up a third of the overall Ukrainian Olympic delegation, according to European Athletics.

An impressive number of U23 athletes, most of whom have achieved the required A-standard, will join more experience competitors like defending Olympic Champion Yuriy Bilonoh (Shot Put) and Olympic High Jump medallist Vita Styopina.

Lyudmyla Blonska leads a strong Heptathlon tradition in Ukraine, and with Multi-event master Carolina Kluft retired from the Combined Events, and Britain`s young podium threat Jessica Ennis out through injury, not just the Osaka silver medallist but her capable compatriot European Cup Champion Anna Melnychenko could also stake a medal claim.

Former World Indoor 1,500m Champion Ivan Heshko, 2005 World High Jump Champion Yuriy Krimarenko and two-time European silver Pole Vault medallist Denys Yurchenko are all on form and could post a podium threat in their respective disciplines.

On the women`s side, Blonska will be joined by Ukraine`s other Osaka medallist 1,500m runner Iryna Lishchynska and two World Indoor medallists from Valencia - Vita Palamar (High Jump, bronze) and Tetyana Petlyuk (800m, silver). 

19-year-old World Junior Javelin record holder Vira Rebryk, who achieved the best mark in the women`s contest in Bydgoczsz this July (63.01m), should also be an interesting young athlete to watch making her Olympic debut.

Pole Vault superstar and IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka was on hand to wish the Ukrainian Olympians well at the official departure party in Kiev,

"You have already shown great results and that you are worthy to represent your country. We are proud of you and the hearts of all Ukrainians will tap in unison for you in Beijing!  Have a good competition, Olympians!"

European Athletics