Belarusian women’s kayak four sail to Olympic bronze
With the wind blowing over the bay, neck and neck with their rivals, our women’s four repeated their London Olympic success to claim bronze again. However, the taste is rather sour, since Brazil had half the numbers of London.
Those expecting miracles from our rowers should remember that Margarita Makhneva and Olga Khudenko had watched on as their team mates failed in the singles and doubles. Despite this tension, they did well, although experienced Marina Litvinchuk, with various world championship awards (as well as her London Games bronze) showed her disappointment after the race. Standing in the mixed zone of Lagoa Stadium, hiding her eyes behind sunglasses, she noted bitterly, “Within our four, we perform for the whole team. The result that we’ve been pursuing these long four years depends on our endurance, as we’re watched eagerly by those who await us on the bank.”
The girls were met with fountains of emotions. Following the finish, the Director of the National Olympic Rowing Training Centre, Sergey Khmelkov, who has himself been a rower, a coach and team leader, felt like storming down, alongside volunteers and armed patrols, to be near his girls. Only after he had kissed each of them, leaning over the fence surrounding the competition zone, did he calm down. Afterwards, he sighed, as if releasing a heavy burden from his shoulders, and poured out his emotions, saying, “It’s hard to explain what these medals mean to us. The team has been incredibly tense over recent days. We all understood that we should do something to prove that victories are made ‘in the field’. They aren’t just dreams or attempts to manipulate athletes.”
He continued, “This medal is very precious to us. If we hadn’t won, Belarusian rowing wouldn’t have folded. We’re already making plans for the next world championship and beyond. Our medal confirms our self-esteem, and proves that no intrigue can break our team or our nation. We’ll always fight and we’ll always win.”
The race was followed by smiles, tears and declaration of love to the girls’ mothers, all recorded by the camera. It wasn’t hard to imagine everyone watching them on television. So many people were cheering them on. Olga Khudenko says, “We’ve all have done our best; we gave all our strength, everything we had. This medal is proof that we’re professionals and have to fight, under any circumstances, rather than complaining.”
By Mikhail Voropaev