Olympic champ claims Ukraine & Russia are ‘of one blood’
Olympic champion short track speed skater Semen Elistratov has said that any political tensions existing between Russia and Ukraine haven’t impacted his relations with athletes from the neighboring country.
Elistratov, who is preparing to take part in his fourth Olympic Games at Beijing 2022, noted that he and his Ukranian counterparts, with whom he has been training, don’t allow politics to interfere in their sporting life and spoil the friendly atmosphere on and off the track.
“I have known [rival] Oleg Gandey for a long time – we have been training together from time to time," RIA quoted Elistratov as saying.
"We have very close and friendly relations. We don’t have any troubles in communication.
"Oleg always tells me, ‘Sam, don’t pay much attention, this is politics.’ He told me numerous times that we are from fraternal nations, he has many relatives in Russia.
"Maybe I’m wrong but I also think that we are fraternal nations – we are of one blood."
Along with winnning Olympic gold taken at the 2014 Games in the men’s 5,000m relay race, Elistratov also won bronze at the 2018 Games in the men’s 1,500m event.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s youth and sports minister, Vadim Guttsait, advised Ukrainian Olympic competitors on how to behave with their Russian counterparts during the Beijing Games to avoid “Russian provocations.”
Ukrainian athletes were recommended not to take pictures together with Russian competitors and speak only Ukrainian or English during press conferences.
READ MORE: Ukrainian figure skater refuses to speak Russian at press conference
Earlier this week, in Beijing, Ukrainian figure skater Ivan Shmuratko switched to English when responding to a question asked by a Russian reporter.