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“I kill myself. I screamed in pain!”. Emotions around the scandalous fight between Russians and Ukrainians

Date: September 29, 2023 Time: 09:02:32

The attention of the public, fans and simply supportive people continues to be captivated by the scandal that broke out on Thursday, July 27, at the 2023 World Fencing Championships in Milan.

To shake hands or not to shake hands? That is the question. It seems that titled Ukrainian saber fencer Olga Kharlan answered this question for herself a long time ago.

What happened?

In the 1/32 final of the saber fencing competition, Ukrainian Olga Kharlan won against Russian Anna Smirnova – 15:7. Having completed the fight, Smirnova wanted to approach her opponent for the final handshake, which was required by the rules, but the Ukrainian brought her saber forward, blocking the Russian woman’s path, and then left the platform. Anna was on the track for more than 50 minutes, waiting for the decision of the judges and, indeed, the sporting behavior of her opponent. However, the Russian woman’s protest on the result of the fight was rejected and the Ukrainian woman was eliminated from the next round of the competition.

More about the scandalous incident:

The Ukrainian woman raised a saber instead of shaking hands with a Russian woman. Scandal at the World Fencing Championship

“a lot of pressure”

The head coach of the Ukrainian fencing team Natalya Konrad told how the saber fencer Olga Kharlan was disqualified at the World Championships.

“Olga did not shake her hand, she offered a weapon to a neutral girl, but she did not want it, she stayed on the road, and they began to write a protest to the FIE. Although the judge recorded Olga’s victory, she appeared on the scoreboard. Then some time passed, they called us and said that there are two ways to solve the problem: either they shake hands, or there will be a disqualification. Of course, we try to explain that this is a non-standard situation, that there must be other ways to solve it. But I think there was a lot of pressure from the representatives of the neighboring country, and in this case it has a great impact,” Konrad said.

Both sides knew that after the end of the fight, the athletes should shake hands. This is a rule and norm that has been in place for many years. However, the Ukrainian woman refused to obey the rules accepted by all. She probably expected some kind of exceptional focus for him.

Ukrainian tennis players came to Harlan’s defense:

Tsurenko supported Harlan after the disqualification at the World Fencing Championships

“It was a tease!”

Ukrainian sports officials loudly say that Harlan was the victim of a provocation. This is how the Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine Vadym Gutzeit commented on the incident. The official said that Ukraine had warned the organizers of the World Fencing Championships in advance that the athletes would not shake hands with neutral athletes from Russia.

“There was a meeting of the Fencing Federation of Ukraine, the president, the head coach, with the members of the international federation. They also stressed that our athletes will not shake hands, but will greet, congratulate and leave the track. What we saw was a provocation from an athlete under a neutral flag. There are cases in fencing when athletes from Israel and the Arab world meet. They do not shake hands, but hit the blade and scatter.

We saw that she (Anna Smirnova. – Approx. “Championship”) provoked Olga, provoked the organizing committee. The organizing committee knew that this would happen because they were warned, but unfortunately they did what they did,” the Ukrainian press quoted Gutzeit as saying.

“Scream of pain”

Olga Harlan herself said that the situation made her uneasy.

“I didn’t want to shake hands with this athlete, and I acted with my heart. That’s why, when I heard that they wanted to take me out of the competition, disqualify me, give me a black card, of course, he killed me. He hurt me so much that I cried out in pain. I probably understand, like everyone in this world, in a proper world, I understand that the rules need to change, because the world is changing,” Harlan wrote on social media.

“I’m proud of you”. Harlan was supported by her lover:

Boyfriend Harlan reacted to the disqualification of a Ukrainian woman for refusing to shake hands with a Russian woman

However, not all colleagues in the workshop supported Harlan’s initiative. So, the two-time Olympic champion Karina Aznavuryan called the behavior of the Ukrainian fencer unacceptable.

“It has never been normal and it will never be normal because it is unsportsmanlike behaviour. Fencing is a very gentlemanly and highly intellectual sport. Such behavior on the track of Olga Harlan, a great athlete, is generally unacceptable in relation to her opponent. Going out to fight with Anya Smirnova, Olga understood that she was fighting with a representative of Russia. Behaving this way is not appropriate for anyone, because sport has always been outside of politics. Going out and behaving like this is extremely, to put it mildly, wrong. Our girl Anya is well done, she did the right thing by inviting the judges and fighting for her honor and dignity. Because sport should be honest and correct, but such behavior is unacceptable,” Match TV quoted Aznavuryan as saying.

The Minister of Sports of Russia Oleg Matytsin also spoke about the fact that such gestures are unacceptable. The next day, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee, made an emotional statement about the incident.

Compromise solution? Yana Yegoryan thinks so:

“Neither ours nor yours.” Yana Egoryan – about the disqualification of Olga Harlan at the World Championships

The history of the World Fencing Championships is not so much a political question as a moral one. After all, a worthy athlete, and even more so a champion, is distinguished from all others by respect for the opponent. Whatever country it is. Many representatives of Ukraine clearly lack this respect.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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