THE ORDEAL OF 15-YEAR-OLD SKATER
The pressure on this young girl to perform was cruel.
“I hate this sport,” Kamila cried amidst the stress of the 2022 Olympics. “I hate it, hate it. I don’t want to go to the ceremony.”
Kamila Valeryevna Valieva went from brilliant and extraordinary performances before the Beijing Olympics to a disastrous finale that reduced her and thousands of her fans to tears.
Last year she won the Skate Canada International championship and a Russian National silver medal. She has set nine world records in her short career.
In December, before the games began, Kamila tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication. Her mother Alsu said Kamila takes the drug because of heart “variations.”
Kamila was cleared for Olympic competition by an arbitration court that concluded she would suffer “irreparable harm” if disqualified.
COACH PUSHED TOO HARD
But the damage came from all the pressure for her to overachieve and win an Olympic medal for Russia. One can only hope it is not irreparable.
Kamila was heavily favored to win the singles gold medal but she stumbled several times.
When she left the ice, her fiercely competitive coach Eteri Tutberidze accused her of losing her concentration. “Why did you let go? Explain it to me, why. Why did you stop fighting? You let go after that axel. Why?”
‘IMMENSE MENTAL STRESS’
“How high the pressure must have been, a girl just fifteen years old,” said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. “To see her struggling on the ice, how she tries to compose herself, then tries to finish her program, you could feel the immense mental stress.”
“But this was not all,”Bach added. “When I saw how she was received by her entourage, with a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this, rather than giving her comfort, rather than try to help her.”
‘SHE’S A BROKEN CHILD’
Kamila’s drastic final performance that dropped her to fourth place in the Olympics brought tears to the eyes of German figure skating legend Katerina Witt, a two-time gold medalist — Sarajevo in 1984 and Calgary in 1988.
“What has happened is exactly what she should have been protected from. She’s been thrown to the wolves. It is so irresponsible. She’s a fifteen-year-old kid and she’s broken from it. When you see her sitting there, shattered…” said Katerina, her voice dissolving into tears.
KAMILA WENT FROM THIS EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMANCE —
TO THIS —
THE LAST WORD
“In terms of her future,” said Thomas Bach, the Olympic Committee president, “I can only wish that she has the support of her family and friends to help her through this extremely traumatic time.”