Ukraine's Iulian Boiko says he would drop snooker and fight for his country if he was old enough

Boiko is just 16 years old and already competing as a professional snooker player, but he says he'd swap his snooker cue for a gun to help his home nation fight if he was old enough.

Iulian Boiko reached the second round of the Welsh Open earlier this week, but his 4-3 win over Liam Davies was the furthest thing from his mind following the match.

The 16-year-old devoted his win towards the soldiers protecting his home nation from invading Russian troops, and particularly paid homage to Ukraine's sports stars who have taken up arms.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Boiko's home city Kyiv, his brother Wladimir, and current world boxing champions Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk are among those who have joined the fight, and if it wasn't for Boiko being just 16-years-old, he too says he would help defend his nation.

"I'm really proud of all the soldiers, all of the Ukrainian army, including Usyk and top boxers, including football players, and players from all sports.

"All of the professional sportsmen, most of them are fighting now for our country. It's impossible not to be proud because they are amazing.

"If I was a bit older I would do they same. The only way to destroy the enemy is for everyone to unite and stand as one."

Boiko's Welsh Open win came after the youngster rallied from 3-0 down to eventually win 4-3.

After completing such a remarkable comeback, Boiko said, "I tried my best. When I was 3-0 down my game was not to the standard that I'm used to. I was not playing very well.

"But I was just thinking of all the people who are now trying to protect our nation. I tried to fight and give my best and fortunately I came out as a winner in the end."

During the match, reports emerged that Ukraine's capital city Kyiv was under attack, and Boiko admitted that it was tough to retain focus while his home was being invaded.

"That's very difficult," he said. "You get mixed feelings. You're angry, you're upset because you wish you could change something and do something against it.

"But for me the only way to cheer people up a little bit is just to continue playing and doing what I do best.

"I'm trying to work as hard as I can to focus, as much as is possible during these times, on snooker."

Boiko will head for Antalya later this week for the Turkish Masters where he will play world number four Neil Robertson in the opening round.

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