'It's embarrassing. It's brought a mark on our country': Belarusian Olympic long jumper hits out at Timanovskaya for Tokyo row
Belarusian Olympic long jumper Nasstasia Mironchyk-Ivanova has criticised teammate Kristina Timanovskaya for the "embarrassing" situation surrounding her row with Belarusian national team officials at Tokyo 2020.
Timanovskaya was due to compete in the 200m women's event on Monday but was withdrawn after criticising the Belarusian team hierarchy and athletes after a mix-up with the required amount of doping tests for competition resulted in certain athletes being ruled ineligible to race.
That meant Timanovskaya was brought in as an emergency replacement to compete in the 4x400m relay, which led to her hitting out at what she claimed was incompetence by team officials.
Fearing she will be jailed upon returning to her homeland, Timanovskaya is currently seeking asylum elsewhere, with neighbouring Poland and Czechia having offered a visa to the 24-year-old athlete for protection, and her husband and son in Belarus having reportedly fled across the boarder Ukraine.
Mironchyk-Ivanova, who finished 6th in Group B of the women’s long jump in Tokyo on Sunday, has however spoken out about the "negativity" and "chaotic energy" that she says emanated from Timanovskaya towards her and her teammates, and labeled the entire fallout "embarrassing" in an interview with Belarusian television.
“I think it is very embarrassing for an athlete of such a level,” the 32-year-old said on a broadcast for state-owned news channel Belarus-1. “For an athlete of our national team, defending the honor of the flag, the honor of the country, to become embroiled in such a situation.”
“Unfortunately we’re all very upset. There were many times I observed her and felt that negativity that was also directed me, and not only me, other athletes can back that up.
“We saw some kind of anxiety, some kind of chaotic motion, something was worrying her, gnawing away at her. At that time she was very calm and quiet in the sense that she didn’t hang out her dirty laundry in public as they say.
“But after that there were some actions that really disappointed us all and all the supporters and brought blemish on our country. It’s really not a nice situation.”
Timanovskaya was booked onto a flight back to Belarus by national team officials after being withdrawn from the Olympics due to perceived disruptive behaviour, but the 24-year-old sought help from police at Haneda airport.
It is understood Timanovskaya did not board the flight and the plane is still grounded at Haneda.
She reportedly feared being repressed under president Alexander Lukashenko's government upon returning to Belarus, however officials said she was being removed from the Olympic team due to her “emotional and psychological condition.”
Speaking at the weekend, Timanovskaya said she feared for her safety due to the matter having spiralled out of the control of the national team's jurisdiction.
“I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus," she said.
"As Moisevich told me, this issue is no longer at the level of the [athletics] federation, not at the level of the Ministry of Sports, but at a higher level.
"[They decided] I need to be eliminated from the Olympics and returned home because I interfere with the team's performance.”
A 22-year-old Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova became well-known when her hairstyle prevented her from winning gold at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, when the tip of her ponytail landed behind her body, ending up with bronze instead.Also on rt.com Belarusian athlete Timanovskaya ‘safe & secure’ in Tokyo after refusing to fly home as Polish & Czech officials offer help