Three-time Olympic wrestling gold medalist Saori Yoshida shared words of encouragement Sunday with Ukrainian women's national team members who are training in Japan amid Russia's invasion of their country.

The Ukrainians have been training since their arrival Tuesday at wrestling powerhouse Shigakkan University in Obu, Aichi Prefecture, formerly known as Chukyo Women's University, which Yoshida attended.

"All of you are friends and rivals on the mat," Yoshida said at an exchange event at the university. "I hope wrestlers around the world can work together toward their goals."

Three-time Olympic wrestling gold medalist Saori Yoshida (5th from R in 2nd row) poses for a photo with members of the Ukrainian women's national wrestling team on June 25, 2023, at Shigakkan University in Obu, central Japan. (Kyodo)

Shigakkan University offered support to the Ukrainians after learning of how they had been forced to repeatedly shift training bases since the Russian invasion.

Last December, Ukraine's women claimed the World Cup team title in Coralville in the U.S. state of Iowa.

The world championships are scheduled for September in Belgrade, where spots at the 2024 Paris Olympics will be up for grabs.

Yoshida, also a 13-time world champion, won gold medals at three consecutive Olympics through the 2012 London Games and announced her retirement in January 2019.

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