Current Topics

Two former Ukrainian soldiers run the Tokyo Marathon 2024 with prosthetic legs

The Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) hosted the Tokyo Marathon on March 3rd, welcoming 36,965 runners to Tokyo, one of the six most prestigious and largest marathons in the world (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City Marathon).

Among the participants were two former Ukrainian soldiers who were injured during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and ran with prosthetic legs, creating a dramatic story.

Hi how are you? Did you cheer along the Tokyo Marathon two days ago? Or were you cheering on TV?

Reasons for Ukrainian injured soldiers with prosthetic legs running the Tokyo Marathon

A former Ukrainian soldier who lost his left leg to a landmine ran his first full marathon with a prosthetic leg at the “Tokyo Marathon” held on the 3rd.

Yuri Kozlovsky, 41, a former Ukrainian soldier who lost his left leg to a grenade eight years ago, challenged the largest citizen marathon in Japan, the “Tokyo Marathon,” with an artificial foot.

In Ukraine, it has been reported that the number of people who have lost limbs in past conflicts is approximately 50,000, and Kozlovsky wanted to be a symbol of hope for those in similar situations, so he decided to take on the challenge and came to Japan last month.

On the 2nd, Kozlovsky practiced around the Imperial Palace with Roman Kashpur, a former Ukrainian soldier who also lost his right leg to a landmine five years ago and would also participate in the Tokyo Marathon.

Kozlovsky, who has paralysis in his right leg as well as his left, adjusted carefully while focusing on balancing both sides.

On the morning of the 3rd around 9:30 a.m., when Kozlovsky started running from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office wearing the Ukrainian flag with the start signal, he received cheers from the sidelines and encouragement from other runners, responding with “Thank you” in Japanese.

Afterward, he increased his pace, running through the heart of Tokyo while visiting famous landmarks, but he couldn’t pass the checkpoint set at about 29 kilometers within the time limit and was disqualified.

Nevertheless, he continued to run along the sidelines without giving up, and around 4:40 p.m., about seven hours after the start, he reached near Tokyo Station at the finish line, where he embraced his family and supporters who came to cheer him on.

Yuri Kozlovsky lives with his wife Tatiana in Lviv, western Ukraine.
Ukrainian injured soldier with prosthetic leg receives many cheers from the sidelines!

How come he lost his left leg?

Eight years ago, he lost his left leg in the eastern front of Ukraine, where fighting with the Russian side continued, when a grenade exploded.

Kozlovsky described the situation at the time: “I stepped on something and heard a distinctive sound. It was the sound of the grenade’s safety mechanism being released. I tried to escape, but then I heard the explosion and realized my left leg was gone.”

In Ukraine, it has been reported in the media that the number of soldiers who have lost limbs in past conflicts like Kozlovsky’s is approximately 50,000.

The Ukrainian government provides assistance for injured soldiers to purchase prosthetics, but it is said that the number of beneficiaries continues to increase due to the prolonged military invasion, and support from overseas is essential.

Kozlovsky said, “The number of injured soldiers has dramatically increased since the military invasion began. The government is taking measures, but it’s not enough.”

Although he was initially shocked by the loss of his left leg, Kozlovsky began running with a prosthetic leg while undergoing rehabilitation.

He says having a goal has allowed him to live more positively.

Currently, he participates in marathons held abroad and raises funds for injured soldiers.

While he has participated in half marathons before, he did not miss his training twice a week even in snowy Ukraine to challenge his first full marathon this time.

Kozlovsky hopes to inspire soldiers in similar situations by showcasing his efforts toward high goals.

An interview from another injured participant

Roman Kashpur, 27, a Ukrainian injured soldier who lost his leg in conflict and uses a prosthetic, participated in the Tokyo Marathon 2024 on the 3rd and completed the race in approximately 4 hours, 50 minutes, and 2 seconds (preliminary value), improving his own record by about an hour.

Running around Ginza

Kashpur, who lost his right leg to a landmine in May 2019, returned to the front lines with an artificial foot after the Russian invasion in 2022.

After crossing the finish line, Kashpur spoke to the gathered press about his thoughts on running the marathon.

— About today’s race?

The atmosphere along the course and the people were wonderful. My excitement grew, and I want to start preparing for the next marathon immediately.

— How about your record this time?

This is my third participation in the World Marathon Majors. I was able to improve my time by about an hour. Although I was able to update my record through training with my coach, I am not satisfied yet.

I want to work harder and harder.

— What were you thinking while running?

I was thinking about my wife, my children, and my fellow soldiers who sent messages of support. Thanks to their support, I was able to finish the race and achieve this result.

I kept telling myself to keep pushing, kilometer by kilometer, and I made it to the end.

— Is there a place or moment on the marathon course that left a lasting impression?

The cheers from the people of Tokyo were amazing. The most memorable moment was when people along the route came out in large numbers to support me, and among them, Japanese people shouted in Ukrainian, “Glory to Ukraine.”

It was very heartwarming. I really liked Tokyo, so I definitely want to come back.

— You mentioned that you are running for injured soldiers. What results do you hope to achieve through this project?

I think we achieved remarkable results. We received a lot of attention from the media and had the opportunity to spread awareness about this project.

— What are your plans for future activities?

We will continue to support the injured. I will strive to update my record further through marathons. I want to finish in less than four hours next time.

— There were various ways to convey the situation in Ukraine, so why did you choose a marathon?

I have been doing sports all my life, so even though I was injured, I never thought of quitting sports. For the sake of those injured in Ukraine and to boost the morale of those fighting, I wanted to become a good example first.

I believe life should be lived to the fullest, and I wanted to show that I could still perform at my best. And sports are also an important part of mental recovery; I want to continue them for a long time.

— About the prosthetic you’re wearing?

I am supported by Össur, a prosthetic component manufacturer in Iceland, who appointed me as an ambassador for Ukraine. By running with a prosthetic leg, I believe I can set even higher goals and make life more interesting and passionate.

Kashpur completing the Tokyo Marathon 2024

— Will you participate in the Paralympics?

I might participate in the Paralympics in the future. If there’s a possibility, I would like to participate.

Left; Mr.Roman Kashpur Right; Mr.Yuri Kozlovsky

What are their plan to do in the future?

This time, they participated in the tournament to raise funds for the treatment device for Denis Dosuzhy, who was injured and suffered spinal cord damage during combat in eastern Luhansk Oblast last February.

Both of them who participated in the Tokyo Marathon plan to participate in other tournaments in the future and raise funds to purchase devices to be implanted in the bodies of Ukrainian injured soldiers.

Details of the donation can be confirmed at the Japan-Ukraine Friendship Association KRAIANY (

Thanks for browsing, have a good day!

About the author

古林 茂樹(Shigeki Furubayashi )