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11 Feb, 2022 16:49

Wave of social media support for ‘fragile’ Valieva

Fans have united to show their backing for the Russian figure skating star
Wave of social media support for ‘fragile’ Valieva

Winter Olympics hopeful Kamila Valieva has won global support on social media after the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) asked fans to show "love" for the "fragile" star at the Beijing Games.

15-year-old Valieva faces an anxious wait over a hearing involving the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Skating Union (ISU) and ROC after a sample she provided on December 25 tested positive for a banned non-performance enhancing heart drug.

Fears have been voiced over the welfare of one of the youngest stars at the showpiece, with media coverage making headlines around the world since the medal ceremony for the team figure skating event was called off on Tuesday.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) successfully appealed for Valieva to be allowed to continue to train and compete after the test results emerged days after the ROC won gold at the event.

The IOC is now appealing against that decision at a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, leaving favorite Valieva's prospects of taking part in the singles competition in the balance, as well as her team's hopes of retaining their gold medals.

"The most difficult test fell on a very young, fragile, incredibly talented, fantastic athlete," the ROC announced on Friday alongside an image of top talent Valieva on the ice.

"The internet makes it possible to write words of support in real time without pauses. So let Kamila feel your love and sincere emotions."

A Russian hashtag translating as "Kamila, we are with you" has swiftly gained momentum and shown the strength of feeling towards the sporting sensation.

"I'm just shaking... she enjoyed the fulfilment of her dream since she was three years old at the event which she had been targeting all her life," said one. "She didn't deserve this at all."

A Brazilian supporter called Valieva "wonderful" and an admirer from the Olympics host nation wrote: "The Chinese people loved her and two other beautiful skaters and we cheered them on in Beijing."

Even self-confessed critics offered sympathy for the European champion's plight.

"I often express negative opinions about athletes but, whether the athlete has bad technique, undeserved points or bad programs, each of them does not deserve such a nightmare," said one. "I may not root for Kamila but I can't help but stand up for a 15-year-old."

Valieva had already earned high-profile public support from figure skating greats including  Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Evgenia Medvedeva.

The Kremlin issued a statement on Friday telling Valieva not to hide her face and to "walk proudly" and "defeat everyone".

Valieva trained on Friday but shunned questions from reporters. She is due to skate again when the singles competition begans on February 15, with the Games continuing until February 20.