Olympian to local inspiration

World championship track and field runner Mariya Ryemyen, of Churchville, is the new athletic director at KleinLife

Healthy goals: Mariya Ryemyen, a Ukrainian native, Churchville resident and Olympian and world championship track and field runner, is the new athletic director at KleinLife in Northeast Philadelphia. Source: Stu Coren

Mariya Ryemyen, 32, is a proud wife, mother and resident of Churchville. But prior to moving to Bucks County almost three years ago for that “picket fence” American dream, the Eastern Ukraine native led quite the impressive career as an Olympian and world championship track and field runner, garnering multiple medals around the world.

Though Ryemyen isn’t ridding herself of the competition bug just yet, with plans to enter races in the future, she is embarking on a new journey, one that will allow her to help locals of all ages learn to live active, healthy lifestyles.

It was recently announced that Ryemyen has been named the new athletic director at KleinLife, a community resource at 10100 Jamison Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia that provides social, educational and cultural programs, in addition to health and wellness services.

“I have a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, and I want to give this experience to the older people and the kids,” she said.

Ryemyen will oversee basketball, gymnastics, softball and indoor soccer for the young and old alike. She plans to add a new physical conditioning program for children. This will begin in the winter, while programming for adults, which includes yoga, pilates and tai chi, is currently underway.

“It’s important to keep kids healthy. You can be a professional athlete or you can not be an athlete. You just need to be healthy. That’s why all our exercises are for full body. We’re working on all systems in the body of the kids. It’ll be some cardiovascular, some agility, some speed, some strength,” she said.

Of course, health is Ryemyen’s ultimate goal. Still, she stressed that each program is enjoyable.

“It’ll be fun and also encourage kids to improve their skills not only here at KleinLife, but throughout their private lives. I want to help them by offering them tips and training suggestions that I’ve learned throughout my own training,” she said. “We’re really trying to make everybody healthier, from little kids to older adults.”

When taking into consideration Ryemyen’s resume, it’s safe to say participants will be learning from one of the best.

Born 5,107 miles away in the city of Makiivka, she has made numerous competitive stopovers that have included the 2012 Olympic games in London, and the world and European championships in 2012 in Helsinki, 2011 in Paris and Daegu, 2010 in Barcelona and 2013 in Gothenburg.

During those competitions, Ryemyen ran in 60-meter and 200-meter individual races and as part of 4×100-meter relay teams. At the Olympic games in London, she and her teammates took the bronze medal in the 4×100-meter relay, setting a national record for Ukraine.

Her personal best times are 7.15 seconds in the 60-meter race (indoor) and 11.27 seconds in the 100-meter race.

The decision to immigrate to the United States stemmed from a desire to seek out more and better athletic opportunities for herself and her husband, a soccer player and student at Bucks County Community College. The pair has a 17-month-old son.

Those interested in learning more about KleinLife’s athletic programming can stop by for a tour, visit kleinlife.org or call 215-698-7300.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com