In the sabre competition at the World Championships in Milan, the draw brought together Russian athlete Anna Smirnova and Ukrainian Olga Harlan. Given the achievements of the latter, our compatriot did not have many chances to win. He eventually lost with a devastating score by fencing standards: 7:15. But the scandalous situation arose after the completion of the sporting part of the confrontation.
Smirnova took a few steps towards her opponent to shake her hand, but Harlan pointed a saber at Anna so that the Russian could not approach, shook her head and said something about our athlete. Then Olga quickly retreated, and Smirnova turned to the judges. The fact is that in fencing, a handshake is an obligatory ritual prescribed in the rules.
A few more judges came to Anna, who discussed something for a while, and then dispersed. But Smirnova remained on the track. He was there for more than half an hour, at some point he even pulled out a chair. The situation turned out to be unique. In the end, the organizers still disqualified Harlan, although initially our team’s protest was rejected. But after such an act, I just want to praise Anya. And never mind that I still couldn’t go further.
By her act, Smirnova drew the attention of the entire sports world to the rude behavior of Ukrainian athletes in competitions when they cross paths with Russians or Belarusians. Maybe there was no point in waiting that long, or maybe it was this stubbornness of the Russian woman that forced the organizers to disqualify Harlan. Well, Anya lost the fight, but managed to punish the offender as harshly as possible, depriving her of the opportunity to go to the Paris Olympics.
Photo source: Getty Images
For example, in the same tennis that is more committed to traditions, our compatriots should also go to the net after the end of matches with the Ukrainians and stop for a minute to wait for the opponent. Do you think the audience will like the actions of Ukrainians who ignore this tradition, ritual? Improbable. They will be provided with a damning whistle.
A day earlier, in a similar situation in the men’s epee, Ukrainian Igor Reizlin refused to fight Russian Vadim Anokhin. Yes, from that moment on, the Ukrainian Ministry of Sports managed to “change shoes”, canceling its own decision to ban its athletes from competing with the Russians, unless they compete under their own flag.
Photo source: RIA Novosti
But here I want to say to Ukrainian compatriots, be consistent! If it is so disgusting for you to compete with opponents from a particular country, most of whom have nothing to do with the conflict at all, or even call for its quick end, then why do you go to the platform or the court?
And then you’re ready to compete, but how to show elementary signs of decency, no. This approach seems extremely hypocritical on their part. We understand that this is not your (athletes’) choice. But this does not make them seem more attractive in the eyes of the same neutral viewers who are quite tired of the whims of the representatives of Ukraine.
And our Anya is great. As a result, he managed to convince even the organizers that such actions are unacceptable not only from the moral and ethical point of view, but also from the legal point of view.