Keeping his distance: Wary Ukrainian Paralympian SNUBS Russian rivals on podium following military backlash against high jumper
Ukrainian Paralympian Ihor Tsvietov has caused a stir at the 2020 Games in Tokyo by refusing to join his Russian sprint rivals for a photo on the medal podium, following a backlash against a high jumper earlier this month.
Representing the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), Dmitry Safronov won the gold in the men's 100m T35 race on Monday with a new world record of 11.39 seconds.
Clinching the bronze, compatriot Artem Kalashian was 0.36 seconds slower and completed an impressive double-medal finish for the RPC team.
In between the pair was silver medalist Tsvietov from Ukraine, with a personal best time of 11.47 seconds.
However, after distinguishing himself on the track, Tsvietov then refused to follow the customs of the competition by choosing not to be photographed with Safronov and Kalashian on the podium.
As a result, the RPC duo gathered with Tsvietov awkwardly some distance away.
The scenes follow an outcry in Ukraine during the Olympics earlier this month, when high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh took a photo beaming alongside Russian athlete Maria Lasitskene after they scooped bronze and gold respectively in the women's high jump.
The act caused an uproar at home in Ukraine, with the country's Defense Ministry demanding a meeting with Mahuchikh – who is a junior sergeant of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – for supposedly snubbing her "restrictions and responsibility" amid political tensions between the nations.Also on rt.com Ministry of Defense of Ukraine to meet athlete & armed forces sergeant after she hugged Russian rival who beat her to Olympic gold
Simultaneously, some of her compatriots attacked Mahuchikh on the internet and accused her of treachery and bringing shame on their homeland.
On the other hand, however, she did receive support from European Games champion and fellow bronze medalist Stanislav Horuna who quipped: "Sports, motherf*cker, beyond politics,"
"For most athletes of the national team of Ukraine, this is a profession and a matter of life. Get off the athletes with your new politics. Being photographed on a pedestal with an opponent or friend is part of it," Horuna insisted.
"The [podium] is a unique and exceptional place of respect that brings together only a few successful athletes thanks to their work on themselves and performance. No more, nothing less."
"There is no ′betrayal' in the photo of Mahuchikh and Lasitskene," he insisted.Also on rt.com ‘Sports are beyond politics’: Olympic medalist blasts row over Ukrainian who hugged Russian as city mayor slams ‘sofa patriots’
Be that as it may, Tsvietov has seemingly taken note of the backlash and looked to avoid similar treatment by steering well clear of his Russian rivals.