How the Olympic drama came about: The day Kamila Valiyeva broke twice

Regardless of the sport, it is above all a human tragedy that is taking place in Olympic figure skating: Kamila Valiyeva collapses under the pressure – which causes anger in her trainer. While it breaks Katarina Witt’s heart, even IOC President Thomas Bach is alarmed. The scandal is still having an impact.

If even Thomas Bach expresses his outrage, then something really extraordinary must have happened at the Olympic Games. The diaper-soft IOC President is not a big advocate of the clear edge. Especially not when he threatens to alienate autocratic partners, some even say friends. But what went out into the world from Beijing on Thursday, what had happened in his, the Olympic cosmos, Bach did not want to remain silent about. Or couldn’t. The powerful sports official would have become a silent accomplice in the face of the shocking ruthlessness of events in the figure skating stadium.

Kamila Valiewa was broken on this Thursday afternoon. And that twice. First on the ice, when the completely overwhelmed 15-year-old had struggled so desperately for four minutes to somehow get control of her head and body. And then behind the gang as she searched for support, for stability and found only the wrath of her ice-cold trainer. Instead of a gesture of consolation, Eteri Tutberidze drummed down a merciless thunderstorm of accusations against the girl. Unresponsive to anything but consolation, white as a sheet, on the verge of collapse.

“Ice Cold Atmosphere”

“When I saw how she was received by those around her, with what seemed like an enormous cold – I shivered down my spine to see what was happening,” Bach reported on Friday. “Instead of comforting her, instead of helping her after what happened, you could feel how freezing the atmosphere was. To experience such a distance just by looking at that person’s body language has only made it better in the imagination worse.”

“That person” is Valiyeva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who greeted the distraught teenager with disregard rather than comfort. “Why did you give everything out of your hands like that? Why did you stop fighting? Explain that to me!” Said Tutberidze, known and feared for her tough methods, as heard on videos. Bach, a friend of Vladimir Putin’s, is not suspected of being fond of Russian sport. His statements are the maximum imaginable affront for him.

It’s hard to know what had upset the world more: the heartbreaking suffering of the 15-year-old, whose life seemed thrown away at that moment. Or the brutality of the trainer, who apparently saw the drama on the ice as a personal attack on her life’s work. Does the outrage of the world up to Thomas Bach, who found this moment “disturbing”, do something with the 47-year-old? Hardly imaginable. She lost her reputation. The reputation as merciless, badass and merciless. The ARD doping expert Hajo Seppelt reported on a case where a young athlete was put in a garbage can after a failed training run and had to stay there until the end of the session. Tutberidze is said to have said: Garbage belongs in the garbage. That is not verified.

Fragile girls

It was already inevitable that Valiewa’s story would end as a tearful drama. The only thing that was unclear was which branch she would take on the way to the freestyle, to the tragic finale. Two scenarios were ready after the short program: Valiewa, this girl full of magic on the ice, would shoulder the burden of the (Olympic) world and conjure up the positive doping test (which only became known in Beijing) for a dubious gold moment.

As the leader after the short program, she had already put her runners on track. But it was also to be feared that the talent of the century would break up cruelly in the world focus. That the pressure from her environment to compete and prove the superiority of the system in the oval is too much for this fragile girl. You know the end of the story.

“We, the whole country, wish Kamila that she wins at the Olympic Games,” it said before the short program from the Kremlin, when the legally fought participation in the women’s singles was certain. But when Valiyeva stepped onto the ice around 2:50 p.m. German time on Thursday, the story was still unwritten. But the 15-year-old already knew that only a perfect run full of extreme difficulties would be enough for her. Her Russian teammates Anna Shcherbakowa and Alexandra Trusowa had presented impressively. Shcherbakova with a technically demanding freestyle full of passion and magic (it went gold), Trusowa with her spectacular and powerful rock’n’roll, with a wild and ultimately silver aerial show with five quadruple jumps, however, liberated from the art that in the literal sense of discipline.

“thrown to the world to eat”

And Valiyeva? “They were thrown to the world to eat,” Katarina Witt judged on ARD with tears and struggling for composure. The 15-year-old could not withstand the almost inhuman pressure. Behind the Japanese Kaori Sakamoto she was only fourth. Because she didn’t do her freestyle as perfectly as she did in the team competition, instead she fell and messed up. “It’s actually unbearable,” said Witt. “It happened exactly what she should have been protected for. She’s 15, she’s a kid, you see her sitting there collapsing.” Valiyeva ran off the ice in tears, then collapsed even more. Just to get sympathy from Tutberidze.

It shouldn’t have gotten that far, said Witt. “I can hardly find the words. A mom or someone responsible should have taken her out, put her on the plane, three months away from this hustle and bustle – before this tsunami even hit.” Instead, Valiyeva had to get out on the ice, running and jumping against the scandal, alone and left alone. She couldn’t. “She’s the loser in this whole game, she’s a 15-year-old girl, will we ever see her again, this talent, I could go crazy! It’s so irresponsible what has been done here,” Witt said indignantly.

“Hopes and Dreams of an Entire Nation”

“These days were very difficult for me. I’m happy, but at the same time I’m emotionally tired,” Valiyeva said before the start of the competition on Russian state television. Then she cried. “These are probably tears of happiness, but also tears of sorrow.” What remains of the emotional chaos is above all the grief, but perhaps or definitely also the relief that it is over. for now. The Sports Court CAS only conceded a provisional suspension of Valiyeva because she had to receive a fair trial.

The 15-year-old will now have to face that. For the time being, she is responsible for substances in her blood under sporting law. With the end of the Olympic dream, which quickly turned into a nightmare, accompanied by the swinging “Boléro” by Maurice Ravel, the teenager, who started the games as a child prodigy, is far from relieved of all the pressure. The games in Beijing, where Valiyeva first delighted and then disturbed the world, are remembered – and are forever associated with the pictures of the young Russian. “It was very disturbing for me to see the pictures of Kamila Valiyeva last night, especially the cold, unempathetic reaction of her coach afterwards,” said Thomas Weikert, head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation. “Exposing a 15-year-old athlete to such a situation is irresponsible. Here, the well-being of the athlete must come first.” You have to have a discussion about which competitive sport you want, both in Germany and internationally.

For Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Chernyschenko, the discussion is pointless. For all athletes, the Olympic Games are the “highlight of professional sport”, combined with “the hopes and dreams of an entire nation”. This is a “known pressure for the athletes, and that’s what drives them with their fighting spirit,” said Chernyschenko. Valiyeva’s fighting spirit, which had led her to an impressive performance in the short program, dissolved in the free program before the eyes of the world. “Well, Valiyeva finished fourth. In high-performance sport, the strongest wins,” said the Kremlin.

“I hate you all”

By the way, silver medalist Trusowa raged after the competition, which brought silver to the 17-year-old. That almost got lost in the Valiyeva tragedy, which is now unfolding with full force. She shouted “I hate this sport, I hate you all.” She never wants to step on the ice again. What a pressure that seemed to vehemently unload on this girl. But she would have had reason to be happy, because Valiyeva’s collapse made a highly official medal ceremony possible. The IOC had previously announced that everyone would have failed if Valiyeva had occupied one of the first three places.

In Russia, Bach’s shocked statements were not received enthusiastically: Deputy Prime Minister Chernyschenko said he was “deeply disappointed to see an IOC President spinning his own fictional narrative about the feelings of our athletes and then presenting them publicly as the voice of the IOC “, Chernyshenko told the branch service “insidethegames”.

“Inappropriate and wrong” are the words of the official, whom Putin awarded the “Order of Honor” in 2014 after the Olympic Games in Sochi – for his “contribution to the development of the international Olympic movement and services in the preparation of Russian athletes”. After all, the Kremlin tried to adopt a diplomatic tone: “Thomas Bach is the highest authority in sport and heads the IOC. That’s why we respect his opinion. But we don’t necessarily agree with him,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

source site-33