Oleg Verniaiev in the air, straddling the parallel bars (© AP Images)
Oleg Verniaiev’s parallel bars performance earned Ukraine its first gold medal at the Rio Olympics. (© AP Images)

Ukrainian athletes are making a strong showing at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Over 200 athletes are representing Ukraine in its sixth consecutive appearance at the Summer Games since becoming an independent nation in August 1991.

Donetsk-born gymnast Oleg Verniaiev earned Ukraine’s first gold medal of the games by winning the men’s parallel bars on August 16. “At last we’ve brought the first gold medal to Ukraine,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “I’m so thrilled.” He also won a silver medal in the men’s all-around gymnastics competition.

Elina Svitolina hitting a tennis ball with her racket (© AP Images)
Elina Svitolina returns Serena Williams’ serve during an Olympic women’s singles tennis match on August 9. (© AP Images)

Other notable Ukrainian victories have included these:

  • Elina Svitolina beat Number 1–ranked female tennis player Serena Williams in the third round of the women’s singles event, forcing Williams out of the Olympics.
  • Serhiy Kulish won a silver medal in the men’s 10-meter air rifle event on August 8, the country’s first medal in the shooting event.
  • In saber fencing, the Ukrainian women’s team won a silver medal. Olga Kharlan won a bronze medal in the women’s individual competition, repeating her performance at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Ukrainian medal contenders from Crimea

Anna Rizatdinova standing on one leg while balancing clubs over her head (© AP Images)
Ukrainian rhythmic gymnast Anna Rizatdinova performs during training in Kyiv, Ukraine. (© AP Images)

Ukrainian athletes from Crimea, who remain displaced as a result of Russia’s illegal occupation of the peninsula, have also performed well in Rio.

Sevastopol-born Andriy Hovorov posted the fastest time in the men’s 50-meter freestyle swim heats and later took fifth place in the final. Anna Rizatdinova, who now trains in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, is a medal contender for the rhythmic gymnastics event, scheduled for August 19.

This article draws on reports from Reuters, Ukraine Today and NBC.