Russian sensation makes personal vow to Olympic chief
Russian cross-country skiing star Veronika Stepanova has vowed to make “triple the effort” so that International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach presents her with a medal at a future edition of the Winter Olympics so that she can see the look on his face.
Bach told the German media this week that now is “not the time” to consider lifting the widespread international bans imposed on Russian athletes due to the conflict in Ukraine.
At the same time, the German noted that support for sanctioning Russia was far from universal around the world.
“As a world organization you have to think: these sanctions from Russia are being borne by less than 50 countries in the world,” Bach told Bild.
“That means we have about 150 National Olympic Committees in the IOC whose governments have not imposed any sanctions on Russia. And they ask us: Why are you reacting here? Just because it’s in Europe? What have you done with Yemen, with Afghanistan? What about Ethiopia, what about Mali?
“You have to see this worldview. We must not surrender to these political sanctions and political boycotts.”
Those comments in particular were seized upon by Stepanova, who suggested that they were at odds with the IOC’s recommendation for the suspension of Russian athletes.
“It’s well said here! Now we are waiting for deeds to follow words,” Stepanova wrote on her social media channels.
“...I promise you, Mr. Bach, that I will train with triple the energy so that it is you, and no one else, who will give me a medal at future Games!
“I don’t know about you, but it will give me special pleasure to see your face at the same time,” added the 21-year-old.
A former world junior champion, Stepanova proved a sensation as she burst into the senior ranks last season.
Back in February, the Kamchatka native anchored the Russian women’s 4 x 5km relay team to gold at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with a blistering performance.
However, as with her compatriots, Stepanova is currently banned from international events following a blanket suspension imposed by skiing governing body the FIS.
Stepanova has not been shy to make her feelings known on the bans or what she perceives to be the unfair treatment of Russians in the foreign media.
Discussing the refusal of Norwegian organizers to invite Russians to the prestigious ‘Blink’ roller-ski event earlier this month, Stepanova accused the West of “masochism.”
“Do they want to ‘cancel’ Russian athletes in Europe, and if so, for how long?” asked Stepanova.
“Western politicians and, in part, sports functionaries are one thing, but competition organizers, equipment manufacturers and athletes are quite another.
“I’m calmly preparing and waiting until a sense of reality returns to the West and cures their current masochism,” the skier concluded.