Eugenia Tovstogan was a professional handball player who once performed for the Soviet Union national team. With her club Spartak, based in Kiev, Ukraine, she won many titles. Today Tovstogan is retired from this professional sport. She lives in Israel and works as a volunteer to produce radio health programs for AWR’s FM broadcasts.
Tovstogan was born in Moscow, Russia. A very promising young athlete, she was moved to Kiev to study with the best Soviet handball colony and train to become one of the top players. When she was 16, she started playing for Spartak, the most famous Soviet handball club of all time. With them, she won six championship titles for USSR, five Euro Cups, and many more awards.
Playing for the USSR national handball team, Tovstogan competed in the 1986 world championships in Holland, where her team won the gold medal. Two years later, feeling very confident, they went to the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Everybody respected Spartak and expected the Soviet Union to win the gold in handball. They ended up with the bronze.
The Olympic bronze, which would normally have been a success for any competitor, turned into the biggest disappointment of their lives. The Seoul Olympics was the last chance for the Soviet team, since the country fell apart just a few years later. Like most of her teammates, Tovstogan was left on her own to find her existence and a new club, if possible.
In 1991 she moved to Berlin, Germany, where she played for three years. What a surprise she received when her mother came to Berlin to spend two months with her! Her mother had become a Seventh-day Adventist, and during those two months she shared her new findings with her daughter.
Tovstogan relocated to France in 1993. During that move she decided to change her lifestyle. She started reading the Bible every day and soon resolved not to attend training sessions on Sabbath. This cost her greatly—she had to leave the club. Tovstogan realized that the only place she could play handball professionally and also observe the Sabbath was Israel. Thanks to the contacts she made with some of her friends, she moved to Israel. A few weeks before moving, in 1996, Tovstogan was baptized in Kiev. In Israel she played handball until the end of her career in 2000.
Today Tovstogan says, “I believe through radio I can help people to understand the Adventist health message, which can give them a happier life. Then I want to tell everyone about the prize they can win. There is a first prize, but not for one only. This one is for everybody; all can win it, and I know there is no other prize on earth that can match it. I am dreaming of the day when I can stand as a winner under the flag, together with thousands of others, to sing the anthem which we don’t know yet, but which we will all know when gathered there, as the Bible says.”
—By Tihomir Zestic, AWR Europe Region director
Read 727 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 03:07