Gymnast Elizaveta Polstyanaya announced her retirement at the age of 19. As the athlete explained in a conversation with RT, after the demand of the Latvian NOC to renounce the citizenship of the Russian Federation, as well as the offer of the local federation to play at her own expense, she had no other choice. According to the multiple world champion Yana Batyrshina, in the Baltic country they actually hit themselves on the hands, having lost a strong athlete. In turn, Olympic champion Anna Gavrilenko expressed the hope that Polstyanaya would be strong enough to adapt to a new life.
“Thanks to relatives and family, we managed to accept and survive what happened”
The scandalous story of the gymnast Elizaveta Polstyana, who was required by the National Olympic Committee of Latvia to renounce the citizenship of the Russian Federation in order to be able to continue playing for the national team, has officially come to an end.
The athlete refused to do this in the summer and returned to Russia, and a few months later she announced her retirement. Such a step of a 19-year-old girl was forced. According to her, she had a plan to prepare for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and the intention to start at the 2022 world championship. However, the removal from the Baltic national team put an end to her dreams. At the same time, she also did not want to move to the national team of Russia because of a different system of rules and bureaucratic difficulties.
“Emotionally, a month ago it was very difficult. But thanks to relatives and family, I managed to accept and survive what happened. Unfortunately, this situation has developed, and there was the only right decision. I accepted it and I don’t regret anything, so it was necessary, ”Polstyanaya said in a conversation with RT.
Now a native of Jurmala will focus on coaching. Now she works in Moscow at the Spartak sports club.
“I have embarked on a new path. The regime of constant training and performances was a familiar way of life. Competitive emotions and adrenaline are like a drug for professional athletes, this is not enough. This feeling not only was, but will remain for some time. I was on an emotional upsurge, tuned in to the World Cup and the next important season. It turns out that at one moment everything was chopped off, ”Elizaveta added.
She also admitted that no one else from the Latvian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation had contacted her. The functionaries also ignored her announcement of her retirement from the sport. The former partners behaved differently.
“The secretary of the gymnastics federation stopped contacting me, even when I asked her some questions. There was no response from them. Some girls from the Latvian national team wrote, expressed regret and words of support, ”Polstyanaya said.
She also noted that in the All-Russian Federation of Rhythmic Gymnastics she had not yet been offered any work. At the same time, the head of the organization and mentor of the Russian national team, Irina Viner, previously noted that if the athlete contacts her, she will think about cooperation.
“They set a condition: I must move to Latvia”
It is doubly insulting in the current situation that the girl’s career was cut short actually on takeoff. In the absence of Russians and Belarusians, she could well shoot at major international competitions. So, she managed to loudly declare herself at the last European Championship in Tel Aviv.
There she took a fairly high 12th place in the all-around, which provided Latvia with the maximum representativeness at the World Championships, and also almost won a medal in the hoop exercise. Elizaveta took an offensive fourth place, only 0.3 points behind the representative of Bulgaria Boryana Kalein.
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She was not prevented from achieving a good result even by a forced move to Latvia and a change of coach, which she had to go for in order to be able to continue playing for the national team.
“In mid-March, I was given a condition: I must move, since the athletes of the Olympic team do not have the right to compete and train in Russia. A week after this call, I moved to Latvia and began to cooperate with another specialist … I worked there for three and a half months – thank God, I got in good contact with the new mentor. This period was very difficult for me, ”said the athlete.
She regularly came to Jurmala to relax with her family, but lived and practiced rhythmic gymnastics in Russia. When it became clear that it would be difficult to win the competition here, the girl decided to move to the Latvian national team.
“After performing at the Baltic Hoop, international competitions in Riga, I was noticed. Two proposals were received at once: from Israel and Latvia. We accepted the second, because this country is close to me. I was born there, plus every summer we went there to rest. The parents have many friends. Therefore, the procedure for obtaining citizenship began. I went through everything completely, passed the exam for knowledge of the Latvian language. And only in 2018 I received the documents, ”said Polstyanaya.
Then she made her debut at the junior championship of the continent. A year later, she first went to the adult European Championship, as well as the World Cup, where she failed to qualify for the all-around final.
In 2021, she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Although it was not possible to break into the main sporting event of the four-year period, Polstyanaya loudly declared herself at the World Cup. For example, at the stage in Tashkent, she became the fifth in the all-around, and also made it to the finals of four exercises.
This summer, Elizabeth was preparing for the 2022 World Cup as the leader of the national team, but she was not destined to compete in the tournament. In August, the Latvian NOC, according to her, demanded to renounce Russian citizenship in order to be able to represent the country in international tournaments.
Later, local media denied this information. Allegedly, no one forced the gymnast to do this, but she could no longer claim support from the budget. In the Latvian federation it was confirmed.
“All competitions are at our own expense… We have been set up in a short time according to applications, we need to understand as soon as possible what and how we have with the team, on August 17 we must submit a nominal application for the World Cup,” Then24 quoted the words of the Secretary General of the organization Natalya Prokofieva.
In turn, the athlete assured that it was not about money at all. According to her, her preparations for the tournament were disrupted and, moreover, they demanded to take part in a special control training.
“If I now returned and prepared for the World Cup at my own expense, I would also do it at my own expense, since for the only worthy hall that the Olympic Union paid for, I would also have to pay myself,” Polstyanaya said on Match TV ”, commenting on his refusal to play for Latvia.
“In Latvia, they hit themselves on the hands”
According to experts interviewed by RT, in the current situation, the athlete had no choice but to end her career. So, Olympic champion Anna Gavrilenko admitted that she would be surprised if the issue with the Latvian NOC and the local federation was resolved positively.
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“Honestly, it’s already hard to be amazed at something. I will say this: I would be more surprised if it happened differently, and Polstyanaya was left in the Latvian national team. But Elizabeth defended the honor of the country for more than one year. Of course, there is nothing good in the fact that politics interferes in sports, but this is not the first year that this has happened in our country. As a former athlete, I understand how frustrating it is to go through this. I feel sorry for her. At the same time, Polstyanaya could continue to train in Russia. I am sure that our country would definitely support her, ”Gavrilenko noted.
She also gave a colleague advice on how not to break down psychologically after a forced departure. “A strong-willed person is quite capable of surviving this stage adequately. The faster Polstyanaya adapts to what happened, the easier and easier it will be for her to move through life, ”added Gavrilenko.
In turn, world champion Yana Batyrshina expressed surprise at the actions of the Latvian sports authorities. She believes that gymnasts of this level will not appear in the Baltic state in the foreseeable future.
“It was expected that she would not be allowed to defend the honor of Latvia in international competitions if she did not renounce her Russian citizenship. But she didn’t. All relatives and friends of Elizabeth live here. It’s terribly disappointing, because she brought medals to the country, including she managed to adequately perform at the European Championships 2022, where she almost took bronze in a hoop. For the local team, this is an incredible achievement. And that’s how they treated her. In fact, they hit themselves on the hands. But Polstyanaya could well have performed at the Olympic Games and got into the top ten strongest all-around there, ”Batyrshina suggested.
She also noted that, although there is no talk of playing for the Russian national team, the athlete should contact the All-Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation, where she can be offered options for cooperation.
“I can imagine how difficult it is now for Elizabeth. Moreover, in the absence of Russians and Belarusians, girls of her level got the opportunity to compete for medals in major tournaments, which they could not count on before. To leave at such a moment is doubly insulting. I’m very sorry for Polly. I don’t know her personally, but I followed her performances and I can say that she is a very good, high-quality gymnast, ”added Batyrshina.