Iulian Boiko sends message to Ukrainians after Turkish Masters win

March 8, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Iulian Boiko
Iulian Boiko enjoyed another good win but his thoughts are with his home country, Ukraine (Picture: WST)

Ukraine’s only professional snooker player hopes that his performances on the table are making fans at home happy, saying it is the chance to represent his country with pride that keeps him playing.

The 16-year-old has only won three games all season, but two of those have come in the last two weeks, despite the horrific violence at home in Ukraine.

The latest came in the first round of the Turkish Masters in Antalya on Tuesday, beating Simon Blackwell 5-4 to set up a meeting with Andrew Higginson in the last 64.

It is hugely impressive that the teenager is picking up results despite having many friends back in Ukraine who are living through the abhorrent Russian invasion.

Boiko is trying to make the best of the horrible situation, using the war as motivation to inspire the Ukrainian people and give them something to cheer.

‘The Ukrainian nation motivates me to play better and to fight because of what people are going through,’ Boiko told WST after beating Blackwell. ‘I hope I make them a little bit happier by winning.

‘I am doing it for them, they are my inspiration. I am really motivated and really proud to be Ukrainian. I hope we will get through these difficult times.

‘You can’t just ignore the news but then it’s hard to focus on snooker. It’s really terrible, I can’t put it aside when people are dying. Civilians and people I know are in danger.

‘I wish it would stop. I wish I could help and the only thing that keeps me playing is to play my game and represent Ukraine with pride.’

Iulian Boiko
Iulian Boiko flying the Ukrainian flag when he won the 2020 6 Reds European Snooker Champion (Picture: EBSA)

Boiko is trying his best to keep hold of professional status, with the very real prospect of dropping off the tour at the end of this season, unless he picks up a few more wins.

However, his focus is understandably split, explaining last week how his family has thankfully escaped Ukraine, but many friends remain.

‘The situation is terrifying, there is full scale war going on,’ Boiko told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. ‘Attacks, explosions, missiles so it’s really terrifying because I’m really worried for all the people who are there, all the Ukrainians, it’s really bad.

‘They [family] are all safe. At the time of invasion fortunately my father and two of my brothers were out of the country. Mum had to flee to come to Poland and for now they’re safe.

‘My parents continue doing their job from Poland and also they’re helping people find shelters and places to stay so I’m really proud of them.

‘I think this is what unites our country, that all of the people are helping each other at the moment.

‘I have a lot of friends and basically all of my team are like family to me, they’re all in Ukraine. I try to talk to them as much as I can, that’s why it takes a little bit of focus and concentration out of snooker because you realise that’s not as important as the people’s peace and lives.

‘They have to stay underground most of the time. Everybody’s looking for safe places to stay, to survive all those explosions and attacks from Russia.’

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