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9 May, 2009 06:52

Sportsmen on WW2 frontline

At the start of World War II, hundreds of Soviet athletes joined a special combat brigade to defend the country.

They first gathered in Moscow at Dinamo stadium – and they still do – every year in May to celebrate Victory Day.

No one's forgotten, nothing's forgotten – that's the best way to express how the Veterans felt.

At the end of June, 1941, more than 800 athletes, including European and World champions representing Dinamo, Spartak, CSKA, and other sport societies volunteered to reinforce an Independent Special Purpose Motorized Brigade also known as OMSBON.

It was the pick of those truly devoted to the Motherland, physically hardened and tough, courageous, and capable of working in high pressure situations.

Track and field athletes, rowers, boxers and wrestlers, skiers and skaters – they were all included in this special force to fulfill equally special tasks – mostly in the enemy’s rear.

World record holder, and former skater Pavel Belyaev is one of those who fought in that legendary brigade.

“Sport and physical culture help you find your inner, hidden abilities…They make your body and will stronger in all possible respects…And that's what helped us defend our country and survive in those severe times… No matter if you're an Olympic champion or just a simple man, you're first a human with his Motherland to love and defend,” Pavel Belyaev said.

64 years ago, all the athletes involved in OMSBON celebrated the greatest victory in their lives.

For decades, Veterans have gathered on the same spot to celebrate Victory day, and share their memories with youngsters and all those who care.

After getting through such hard times, these old men and women can still surprise with their enthusiasm and love for life

“I'm a passionate fan of all of our sportsmen and women and always support them. Each time they perform, I beg God to help them! And it does work,” said Lyubov Bovsun, Dynamo veteran, and former gymnast.