Ukraine now boasts a very first world champion in badminton thanks to the brilliant efforts of Oksana Kozyna who won the women’s singles Standing Lower SL 3 final today at the HULIC DAIHATSU BWF Para Badminton World Championships 2022 in Tokyo.
Her pre-tournament wish of wanting to “get the gold medal” came true as she fought back from one game down against Turkiye’s Halime Yildiz to deliver a historic and poignant moment for her country.
Kozyna, who turns 28 this Thursday, immediately cried out in jubilation and ran straight for her coach as she celebrated her 20-22 21-18 21-14 victory. It’s the first medal of any kind for Ukraine at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships or BWF World Championships.
“I have written history for Ukraine badminton. No one has ever been first at the badminton World Championships. Oksana Kozyna is the first to get a gold medal for Ukraine badminton. This is like wow,” she said.
“I’m so thankful for everyone who has supported me this week and from back home.”
Her victory may not have been without the assistance of the Japan Para Badminton Federation who put her and her teammates up for their entire stay in Japan.
That feeling of love has been common in 2022 with Kozyna and her colleagues finding refuge in France in the northern town of Lille since fleeing Ukraine.
Much of Kozyna’s family is still in Ukraine, and she dedicated her performance to those close to her.
“I will celebrate tonight. I will call my parents and my friends. I win for them,” she said.
“My grandparents are in Ukraine, and my younger brother is in the military. I’m worried about all of them. But now that I’ve won, I can help everyone.”
Kozyna’s rise to the top of Para badminton, and into sporting fame in Ukraine, has been imminent ever since she burst onto the scene in 2021. She won her first title at the Dubai Para Badminton International in 2021 defeating world No.1 Manasi Joshi in the decider and subsequently took the Canada Para Badminton International in 2022.
She repeated that effort against Joshi here on Saturday in Tokyo blasting past the 2019 world champion 21-18 21-18 to playoff for gold.
With France as her new home, and her badminton play ever improving, the bright lights of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games now looms less than two years away.
“I do want to go back to Ukraine, but it depends on the situation there,” Kozyna admitted.
“[But all I know] is I’m here because this is what I’m meant to do – play badminton. Even though there is a war on in Ukraine, I have God with me.”