Russian fencer Smirnova's brother serves in the Russian army, which the international federation has turned a blind eye to
Ukrainian Olga Harlan's rival at the 2023 World Fencing Championships, Russian sabre fencer Anna Smirnova, who succeeded in disqualifying the Mykolaiv champion for refusing to shake hands, is not a "neutral" athlete, as required by the competition rules. The representative of the aggressor country's brother is a soldier, and she is very proud of him, as can be seen from their joint photos.
The Russian staged a demarche at the World Championships in Milan after Harlan, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist and multiple world champion, refused to shake her hand. Smirnova waited on the track for an hour, demanding that the Ukrainian, who, according to her, allegedly violated the regulations of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) and should be disqualified, be disqualified. But the judges declared Olga the winner.
But later, the FIE, which is called the pocket federation of Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, suspended Harlan from the competition. Smirnova is also not in the tournament's further bracket, but her very participation in the competition in a "neutral" status raises questions, as her brother is a Russian military officer, and Anna is very proud of him, judging by their photos together.
"My brother met me in Moscow," Nikita Smirnov posted pictures of himself and his sister in January 2023. In the photo, the athlete is wearing a cap of the Russian occupiers and is pointing to the letter V, which the Russian military uses to mark its equipment. If this is not support for the war in Ukraine, what is?
Also, this year's Russian Championships in Vladikavkaz ended with Smirnova finishing 6th in the individual competition and 8th in the qualifying system. That is, Anna is clearly not a world championship-level athlete. The fencer herself knows this.
"So much energy is spent after competitions, after training camps and workouts! Everything is hard, with great difficulty, and there is no certainty that it is all justified... Sometimes I think I'm knocking on a closed door... But I remember the work I have done over all this time, what I have gone through and how strong I have become. Seeing and feeling progress is what I rely on now. This is what helps me not to give up," Smirnova wrote on her Instagram.
Anna, who is originally from Barnaul but now lives in Khimki near Moscow, had problems with money, results and travelling to competitions.
"The issue of salary became a priority and my permanent concern, and international competitions became a happy past. A lot of questions: "What's next? What should I do? How can I make a living?". And I don't have any answers to them yet," the athlete complained at the end of April.
And then, unexpectedly, not the first female saber fencer from Russia was taken to the World Championships. And it was the Ukrainians who she was drawn against in the 1/32 finals, losing with a bang and staging a demarche. It all looks like a set-up. Only the aggressor's "thinkers" were likely hoping that Harlan would refuse to fight. But the Ministry of Sports of Ukraine had just cancelled the boycott, Olga took to the track, and Smirnova had to improvise.
And when the Russian woman's shameful protest did not work, the Russian Federation's patrons in the international federation had to intervene.
It is worth noting that Olga became the first Ukrainian woman to fight a representative of the Russian Federation in fencing after the Ministry of Sport lifted the ban on fights against aggressors. The day before, Igor Reyzlin withdrew from a duel with Vadim Anokhin.
As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, the International Fencing Federation, headed by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, was the first to allow representatives of the Russian Federation and Belarus to participate in international tournaments.