Ukraine’s Olympic flag-bearer Roman Gontyuk is not superstitious

July 17, 2012, 5:48 p.m. | Denis Rafalsky

Roman Gontyuk, Ukraine's hope for a medal in judo, will carry the national flag at the Summer Olympics in London.
© Courtesy

For an athlete to carry the flag of his or her nation at the Olympics is a great honor. This year’s flag bearer for Ukraine at the London Olympics is Roman Gontyuk. Despite the glory, however, the superstition is that the athletes who carry the flag do poorly in the competition.

Great athletes of Ukraine -- figure skater Viktor Petrenko in Norwegian Lillehammer in 1994, pole vaulter Serhiy Bubka in Atlanta in 1996 and swimmer Yana Klochkova in Beijing in 2008 -- suffered misfortune, despite having won gold medals at previous games.

However, Gontyuk, whose sport is judo, is not superstitious.

"It doesn’t matter whether you bear a flag or not,” Gontyuk said to reporters. “The main thing is the psychological condition and positive mood.” 

He even feels lucky.  “They say Roman Gontyuk is lucky because I was the first of Ukrainian athletes to win a medal  in Beijing and then we got the biggest number of Olympic awards in our history,” he said.

One of the unlucky Ukrainian flag-bearers of the past, Serhiy Bubka, current president of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, does not regret carrying the national flag at the Atlanta Olympics. Despite suffering an injury, he got a lifelong memory.

At 28, Gontyuk aims to convert the bronze he won at Beijing and the silver – at Athens - into a gold this time in the 90-kilogram division.

Almost 400 contenders from 134 countries, up from 96 in 2008, will battle it out in the seven weight categories for men and women during seven days of judo competition at London's ExCel Exhibition Centre, Reuters reported. There will be 10 judoists from Ukraine. 

In whole, 245 athletes will represent the nation, nine fewer than the team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Ukrainians will compete in 28 sports.

Kyiv Post staff writer Denis Rafalsky can be reached at rafalsky@kyivpost.com