Several Russian gymnasts came to send the figure skaters Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova off to PyeongChang. The gymnasts also commented on the fact that the Russian athletes will have to compete under the neutral flag and that spectators won’t be able to bring Russian flags to the arena. They drew comparisons with their own situation in Rio, where it wasn’t known until almost the last moment whether Russia would be banned from competing due to the state-wide doping allegations.
“It’s going to be hard for Zhenya and Alina, but they’re strong, they’ll manage and everything will be great for them. I’m cheering for Zhenya because I know her personally, but both girls did a great job and I wish them luck”.
“I remember how the last time the girls [figure skaters] were sending us off. Two years ago we were flying to Rio and also didn’t know whether we’d be allowed to compete or not. We were in the unknown, we had jitters. On the plane, we couldn’t stop thinking about whether we’d be allowed [to participate]. When we landed in Paris where we had a layover, our parents told us that we’re allowed to compete at the Olympics. We got very happy but then we landed in Brazil and learned that the decision on our participation was not yet finalized. We were training “in the dark”. And so I truly understand what our athletes are feeling now”.
“We all know that the Olympics is the main competition in our life. When we were preparing for the Rio Olympics, the girls came to the Round Lake to support us. We want to wish them great luck and patience. We know that that you are the strongest, prove it there and forget what happened before. Let everyone know that Russia is the strongest country. Good luck!”
“I always notice that more fans come to watch figure skating. It was hard for us at the Olympics because fewer people come to watch artistic gymnastics. We were very worried because there was strange screaming and yelling when we wanted to talk to our coaches one on one”.
“I wish the girls not to pay attention to anyone and to do their job like they’ve done it before when they won. Of course, I wish them to bring the Olympic medals home, for everything to be great and without injuries”.
“The ban on the flags is wrong. Frankly, when I went to my first Olympics, I had such unbelievable emotions. When I was a kid and told people about my dream, they laughed at me. But now… The girls are lucky that they’re going to these Olympics, we need to appreciate it. It’s a pity there won’t be [Russian] flags. It’s hard for me to understand how it is – without the flags. At the artistic gymnastics competitions, you see three [Russian] flags in the stands, flashing somewhere far away. All the rest are American flags. I want to call all the fans to come to our competitions because it’s a bit not nice even when it’s only the USA everywhere”.
“The most important thing is for the girls to compete well and without injuries. Zhenya needs to protect her leg, [to train] without fanaticism like my coach says”.
“I recently had a complicated surgery on my back. I want to recover and win gold. I already have bronze and silver. I want to win my third Olympics. And I’m starting to think now: what if after the recovery from such a serious injury, with metal in my back, I’ll get barred and won’t be able to go to the Olympics? I think I’d kill everyone. This situation with the bans is scary. Let them punish and ban from the Olympics those who took doping and were actually caught. It shouldn’t be that children who never took doping are suffering, like the very Alina and Zhenya. Plus, there are new bans on more and more vitamins all the time. It used to be ok but the samples are stored, they can recheck them and say to an athlete: “You were doping”. It’s wrong”.
Photo: RIA Novosti
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