Anna Shcherbakova has spoken of feeling an "emptiness inside" after winning figure skating gold while her team-mates, Kamila Valieva and Alexandra Trusova, were left upset at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
A distraught Valieva missed out on a medal after a series of heartbreaking falls during her routine as Shcherbakova took the victory ahead of Trusova, who was shown to be furious with the result.
There was more intense scrutiny and pressure on Valieva following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s controversial decision to allow her to compete following her positive test. CAS has not yet ruled on whether she will be able to retain the gold medal she won in the team event before her positive test on December 25 was revealed.
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It all made for an emotionally heightened event on Thursday, and after Valieva closed out the program, Trusova was shown to be in floods of tears and clearly angry at the scores awarded.
Trusova was heard to say: “I will never go out on the ice again. Never! I hate!
“It's impossible! You cannot do it this way! I'm not going to the awards! Everyone has a gold medal! Only I don't! I hate it all!"
That was all while Russia coach Eteri Tutberidze made headlines for her frosty reaction to Valieva missing out on a medal in a moment which IOC president Thomas Bach described as "chilling".
'Explain to me, why??' - Watch 'chilling' moment Tutberidze berates Valieva
"Why did you let it go?” she said to Valieva. “Explain it to me, why?
“Why did [you] stop fighting? You let it go after that axel. Why?"
- 'I will never go out on the ice again!' - Angry Trusova hits out
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- Valieva falls to miss out on medal as Shcherbakova storms to gold
So with all of that as the backdrop, it was perhaps no surprise to hear Shcherbakova describe her gold medal in less than jubilant terms with the champion clearly conflicted about how she felt.
“I still don’t comprehend what has happened," Shcherbakova said. "On the one hand I feel happy, on the other I feel this emptiness inside. I don’t feel like it’s me they’re talking about.
"I am happy that there will be a ceremony and that we are going to get our medals. Of course, it will be extremely pleasant for me to receive my medal.
"I was watching Kamila [Valieva] actually and her performance. I saw from her first jump how difficult it was, what a burden it was for her, and I understand what an athlete feels.
"It is more than difficult to go on to the end, after a couple of things like that happen [falling over], and I will tell her what I think about this later when I speak to her in private."
Bach said of Tutberidze's conduct: “When I afterwards saw how she was received by her closest entourage, with such, what appeared to be a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this.
“Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance.”
'Gold is slipping away dramatically' - Valieva suffers nightmare falls
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