Valieva falls Valieva misses out on Olympic medal

Valieva falls Valieva misses out on Olympic medal

Kamila Valieva’s controversial Winter Olympics ended in tears with a fourth-place finish in the women’s event after the 15-year-old fell multiple times in the free skate.

Russian Olympic Committee’s Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova claimed gold and silver with Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto taking the bronze medal.

Valieva, in the spotlight after a court ruled she could compete in Beijing following a failed drugs test, sobbed while awaiting the score.

She had led going into the free skate.

Those who witnessed the events questioned the wisdom of allowing her to skate in the first place, the Court of Arbitration for Sport had said it would do “immeasurable harm” to not allow it.

Many of those who witnessed it would say ”it may have done that by allowing it.

“I am slightly speechless for all the wrong reasons,” said an emotional BBC commentator and 1980 gold medallist Robin Cousins.

“Someone thought having her do that was better than having her go home to her family and to wait and sort this out, knowing she could have two more Olympics ahead of her.

“To see the talent and the unquestionable quality of Valieva… To see it put into this arena in that way should never have happened.

Valieva landed her opening quadruple jump but then faltered on the next triple, triggering a series of errors that had the crowd gasping in disbelief at what they were seeing.

As the mistakes mounted and the falls came, the crowd cheered her on and applauded the moves she did complete.

She threw her hands up at the end before leaving the ice in tears, for a second time this week, having also burst into tears after the short programme as the tension of recent days told.

As she left the ice Russian-flag waving supporters stood and chanted “well done” in Russian.

The Russian has set several world records since making her senior debut in October, including for a free skate score, but Thursday’s free skate score of 141.

93 fell well short and was only the fifth best of the day.

The medal-winning skaters got their medals at an official ceremony, with the International Olympic Committee having previously said there would be no ceremony if Valieva came in the top three while the doping investigation was still ongoing.

The medals for the team event, where Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee to victory, will not be handed out until the case is concluded.

The talk before Thursday’s skate was about the IOC’s decision that there would be an asterisk against the women’s result until the doping case was over, but thoughts of that quickly evaporated during a performance where the mistakes came with agonising frequency.

Valieva was allowed to compete in the women’s event after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) ruled against re-imposing a provisional suspension on her.

She discovered on 8 February that she had tested positive for angina drug trimetazidine but then successfully appealed against a Russian Anti-Doping Agency decision to impose a provisional suspension.

That decision was upheld by Cas after appeals by the IOC and others, with the court’s ruling pointing to “exceptional circumstances” regarding her age and the timing of the test result, which came during the Games and nearly six weeks after the sample was taken.

There were mixed reactions from her fellow competitors, with some unhappy they were knowingly skating against someone who had failed a drugs test and others sorry that a child was caught up in a doping scandal.

The attention around the Valieva situation meant that most skaters had face questions about what they thought about her participation and potential for gold rather than their own performances.

Instead it was two other Russian teenagers in the top two spots on the podium.

Gold medallist Shcherbakova, who is also the world champion, said she “will not say anything about this situation” around Valieva.

Instead she was trying to able to enjoy own success, saying: “I still haven’t realised that my Olympic Games have ended.

I just know that I skated clean.

I am so happy that I still haven’t realised the result.

BBC/Mercy Chukwudiebere
Valieva falls Valieva misses out on Olympic medal

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