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"I give all my salary to the Armed Forces": Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head

Olena PavlovaSport
Alina Komashchuk and Olena Starikova resume their careers and want to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games

Vadym Gutzeit, President of the National Olympic Committee and former Minister of Sports, told us how he had persuaded Olena Starikova, the 2020 Olympic vice-champion in cycling, and Alina Komashchuk, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in sabre fencing, not to end their careers. And after some time off, the girls have indeed returned to training and are making plans for the 2024 Games in Paris.

It became known in August that Starikova, the best track cyclist in Ukraine and a 10-time European Championship medalist, had finished her professional career at the age of 27. In a conversation with OBOZ.UA, the NOC chairman noted that he contacted Olena immediately after learning that she was done with the sport.

''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head

"I called her and talked to her. She said she was very tired, including psychologically. I told her as a friend: "Take a month, two, three, and come back. You're an athlete, you're strong in spirit, you have a perspective, you have another opportunity to win the Olympics. You have every chance. You are a very powerful athlete with a strong character," Gutzeit said.

"And now Olena is back. But it's not just work, it's just a human relationship that needs to be there," the NOC chairman said.

''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head
Olena Starikova at the Tokyo Olympics.

According to Vadym Gutzeit, Alina Komashchuk, the 2016 Olympic sabre fencing medalist, left for Spain after the outbreak of a full-scale war with Russia and ended her career.

"I also contacted her, wrote to her, saying, 'Alina, think about it, there are chances, now the training is just beginning. She said: "Vadym Markovych, I can't. I give all my salary to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and their support. I want to start a new life and I cannot return to sports now. I'm not ready," the NOC president recalled.

''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head
''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head

"But time passed, Alina returned to Ukraine and is now back on the team. They are fighting, and the saber fencers have a chance to go to the Olympic Games as a team. And so are many athletes I talk to when I travel around the regions," Gutzeit added.

''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head

According to the former minister, everyone is used to the idea that athletes are so steely and can withstand anything, but it is also very difficult for them.

"Of course, it's no harder for them than for our guys who are now defending Ukraine in such conditions. But, for example, there is a rhythmic gymnast Victoria Onoprienko, whose father is defending our country in the Armed Forces. And you can imagine how difficult it is for Victoria, because every day she waits for some information about whether her father is okay. And then she has to go to training, compete and be the best. And she did well, she won a license for the 2024 Olympic Games," said the NOC Chairman.

''I give all my salary to the Armed Forces'': Olympic vice-champions return to sports after talking to NOC head

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that an interim Minister of Youth and Sports had been appointed to replace Gutzeit.

Only verified information is available on the OBOZ.UA Telegram channel and Viber. Do not fall for fakes!

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