His picture with a steel helmet in military service went around the world last year. Now Dmytro Pidrutschnji is a biathlete again - and can celebrate several notable successes at the World Championships. Nevertheless, his thoughts revolve almost exclusively around his home country Ukraine.
After his world-class performances in Oberhof, Dmytro Pidrutschnji's homeland was omnipresent again at the athletes' buffet. A typical soup with beetroot in the hotel made the former biathlon pursuit world champion digress to Ukraine for a culinary treat. To where he wanders in his thoughts every day during the World Cup, which has been so successful so far.
But at least for a few minutes he didn't think about the great suffering in war-torn Ukraine. "I'm very happy that I can eat one of my favorite national dishes even so far from home," wrote Pidruchy on Instagram for the picture of the borscht soup.
Previously, he had caused great emotions in front of 23,500 spectators in the Arena am Rennsteig. First Pidrutschnji broke through the Norwegian phalanx on Saturday as fifth in the sprint and "best of the rest", then he impressively followed up with his eighth place in the pursuit race. "It's great, I'm very happy that I can fight against top athletes here," said Pidruzhnyi in front of the world press: "It's important for me, for our country and our people in the war. You watch me here fight."
About a year ago, a fight against the best biathletes in the world was unthinkable. Less than two weeks after his start at the Olympics in Beijing, Pidruzhnyi sat in the basement with a steel helmet on his head while his competitors ran and shot for World Cup points. The pictures went around the world, and a number of athletes, including a 19-year-old friend and young biathlete, fell victim to the Russian war of aggression.
Then Piduchnji's own health slowed him down. A knee operation in December cost him much of the season. At the comeback in early February in the IBU Cup in Obertilliach, he stormed to third place. Four years after his gold coup in Östersund, he is in top form just in time for the World Cup. "I'm so happy. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" he wrote on Saturday night.
The constant concern for family and friends also torments Pidrutschnji when the focus is actually on the race against Johannes Thingnes Bö and Co. "We think about the war every day. I'm in touch with my homeland, I'm constantly reading the news about the war," he said. It was "very hard, a difficult time". He fights against it with positive sporting headlines.