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3 Aug, 2021 13:25

‘I don’t think I can ever go back to Belarus’: Timanovskaya ‘was afraid for life’ but will continue career, targets 2024 Olympics

‘I don’t think I can ever go back to Belarus’: Timanovskaya ‘was afraid for life’ but will continue career, targets 2024 Olympics

Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya has revealed she wants to continue her career and will never return to her homeland, speaking after claiming asylum in Poland following the scandal that erupted over her Olympics exit.

200m specialist Timanovskaya has been at the center of an international diplomatic row after criticizing Belarusian officials over what she claimed was a lack of doping tests and a failure to properly communicate her addition to a relay team.

The troubled 24-year-old was taken to an airport in Japan and strongly encouraged to board a flight to Belarus, dodging that prospect by speaking to local police before being taken to a safe space amid accusations that an attempted kidnapping had taken place.

In purported recordings that were released of her discussions with officials from the Belarus Olympic Committee, Timanovskaya could be heard insisting that she was only focused on competing.

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She had been scheduled to run on Monday, but the day became memorable for the pressurized athlete for other reasons as she was issued with a humanitarian visa by Poland, where she is now expected to relocate to.

In a new interview, the runner and coach has said that she wants to continue with her elite sporting exploits and hopes to appear at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

"I was just afraid for my life, afraid to go to jail," she told the Wall Street Journal, adding: "I don’t think I can ever go back to Belarus."

Timanovskaya's husband, who was a personal trainer at a gym in Minsk, has said he hopes to be reunited with his spouse after fleeing Belarus for Ukraine.

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The Olympic debutant elaborated on her fears at the time of her airport ordeal. "I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail," she told Tribuna.

"I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus.

"As [Belarus team boss Yuri] 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."

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