By Sergey Panashchuk in Odesa, Ukraine
A seven-year-old girl won a gymnastics competition a year after her leg was amputated following a Russian missile attack on her hometown.
Oleksandra Paskal was buried under concrete debris in her house when a Russian rocket hit her home in the small sea resort settlement of Zatoka, southern Ukraine, last year.
Oleksandra and her mother, Maria Paskal, were having breakfast when a missile hit and completely destroyed their house on May 16.
Despite being seriously shell-shocked, the woman managed to locate her daughter, buried under the rubble of a concrete wall, and come to her rescue.
The unconscious girl, whose left leg had been smashed by one of the collapsed walls, was reportedly handed to paramedics and delivered to a nearby hospital in a state of coma.
Doctors had to amputate her injured leg so that she had a chance to survive, say local media.
“The next two weeks after the attack, Oleksandra spent in intensive care, between life and death, with fractures to her left hand and four ribs. She also received a head injury and numerous lacerations,” a Ukrainian news source reported.
The girl underwent eight surgeries before she came out of a coma.
“The first thing she asked about was if she would be able to do artistic gymnastics again,” reports said.
During her recovery period, Oleksandra learned how to sit and move, suffered from pain in the amputated leg, according to local media.
At the end of July 2022, Maria and Oleksandra Pascal went to Austria where the girl received her first prosthesis and started a rehabilitation course.
This year Oleksandra started with careful sports training and quickly progressed. Today she performs gymnastic elements on an equal footing with other members of her section.
Yesterday the girl won a local home competition in the Odesa Oblast region held in the city of Chornomorsk.
“I want to compete and win for Ukraine,” she said in a comment to local media.
“She is a fighter,” Oleksandra’s trainer said about her, “Unbreakable. Whatever happens, she gets up and moves forward.”
The video of Oleksandra’s performance was posted online by Daria Herasymchuk, the adviser to the President of Ukraine on children's rights.
“It’s unbelievable how quickly the girl managed to return to gymnastics. I am sure she is a future champion. She inspires me. Nothing can break us,” Ms Herasymchuk commented on her Facebook.