Luge queen hailed Olympic hero for tearful trumph after broken leg horror
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has lauded Tatiana Ivanova after the former relay world champion returned from a broken leg in style – coming third in luge singles at the Winter Olympics to become the first Russian to earn a medal in the women's competition for 42 years.
Eight-time European champion Ivanova burst into tears and was embraced by her thrilled teammates after an error-free run in the breakneck final showdown earned her bronze less than three months after a horror injury.
Ivanova suffered an agonizing end to her World Cup campaign in the city of Sochi in her homeland at the end of November 2021, fracturing a bone and damaging ligaments in her leg.
Unable to walk, the 30-year-old had to be taken to the airport by wheelchair and insisted to doctors that their timeframe for her recovery – at least a month – was the maximum she could afford to lose in pursuit of her Olympic dream.
That determination paid off in Beijing, where the Chusovoy-born star was rewarded with her first individual medal at the Games, making her the third Russian to earn a medal on Tuesday.
"Bravo, Tatiana," responded the ROC after watching Ivanova pelt round the circular track in their striking blue kit. "The country is proud of you."
Ivanova had been fifth after the first run and led at one point. The silver medalist in the team relay at the 2014 Games in Sochi entered the final run with third place hers to lose.
Four of her European titles had come in singles, and Ivanova served notice of her potential to place in Beijing when she returned to the World Cup little more than a month after her leg injury.
Competing in Sigulda, Latvia at the start of January, Ivanova came third in the singles and first in the sprint singles in a signal of intent.
Two Austrians, Madeleine Egle and Hannah Prock, finished just over 0.3 seconds behind Ivanova in the tightly-contested overall finish.
Anna Berreiter, the 22-year-old who is the youngest woman to win a luge World Cup race, finished more than half a second ahead of impressive Ivanova as part of a German one-two at the top of the podium.
Natalie Geisenberger, who took a break from the sport in October 2019 ahead of the arrival of her son in May 2020, returned in triumph to claim her third straight singles title at the Games.
The result left her admirers proclaiming Geisenberger as the greatest female luger of all time. The Games continue until February 20 2022.