Ukrainian Rowers Prepare for Head of the Charles Regatta Amid War With Russia

"We are brave, we are strong and we still will fight forever," Olena Buryak said

NBC Universal, Inc.

Members of the Ukrainian national team arrived at the Charles River for rowing practice Thursday ahead of the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and Cambridge.

The world-renowned annual competition, which begins on Friday and lasts until Sunday, will feature about two dozen Ukrainian athletes, many of whom were in their native country when the Russia-Ukraine war started in February.

"Our airport was bombed. When we were packing our bags we heard four loud, loud shots. There were four missiles at our airport," said Dmytro Hula, who took his wife and then-3-month-old son to the Polish border after the Russian attacks began. "We left in the first two hours of the war, from Kherson, which was occupied, but our airport was bombed."

Air raid warnings sounded throughout Ukraine Tuesday as Russian forces continued its barrage of strikes across the country.

Other rowers in town for the regatta described similar experiences.

"I [was] just sleeping and I heard explosions, and I've seen helicopters between houses," recalled Olena Buryak, who also drove to the Polish border with her family in February.

She said the regatta is an opportunity to showcase Ukrainian national pride before hundreds of thousands of spectators.

"We are brave, we are strong and we still will fight forever," she said.

The Head of the Charles Regatta, a beloved Boston tradition, is bringing together athletes from all over the globe and educating them, and spectators, on sustainability.

The Ukrainian national team will compete on both Saturday and Sunday.

Contact Us