Russian biathlete hid tragic secret until medal was won
It was a bittersweet moment for Russian biathlete Irina Kazakevich when she had an Olympic silver medal placed around her neck in Beijing, as her celebrations were overshadowed by a tragedy that struck her family during the Winter Games.
The 24-year-old helped her team to earn silver in the women’s 4 x 6km relay race on Wednesday, the same day that her father was buried back in Russia.
Kazakevich, who skied the first leg for her team, did not tell anyone about the tragedy, hiding her emotions deep inside while shooting at targets and crossing the 6km track.
She shared the news with her teammates only after the finish, when the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) quartet was celebrating their silver.
“I’m very happy that my daughter became an Olympic silver medalist. She dedicated this award to her father, whose funeral was held on Wednesday. It was hard for her, but she managed to cope with it,” the athlete’s mother, Olga Kazakevich, told Match TV.
Kazakevich’s father Vladimir passed away at the age of 49 after a long battle with cancer.
The ROC squad of Kazakevich, Kristina Reztsova, Svetlana Mironova and Uliana Nigmatullina earned a long-awaited Olympic medal in Beijing, finishing second, behind Sweden.
Germany completed the podium to leave pre-race favorites Norway outside the medals.
The medal is Russia’s fourth in biathlon in Beijing but a first silver, with the previous podium finishes being bronzes in the mixed relay, men’s pursuit and men’s relay races.