Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva is feeling grateful for her support system after her dramatic experience at the Beijing Olympics, during which the 15-year-old was thrust into the spotlight over a failed drug test.
Valieva took to Instagram this week to reflect on her experience, which ended last week after she finished fourth in the women’s individual event.
“I want to thank everyone who has been with me during this tough period: who was by my side and did not let me lose heart, who sent me supportive messages, who was just thinking of me, who prayed, who believed me and in me,” Valieva captioned her post, which included photos taken at the Games.
“Thank you, my fans, my family and friends, my coaches, the entire ROC team, my country, and people from all over the world. THANK YOU ALL!!!! I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL!!!! I will always remember this, be grateful to you and skate for you.”
On Monday, Valieva reflected on her first Olympics in a separate Instagram post that featured more snapshots from Beijing.
“My first Olympiad is finally over, and I want to thank those who led me to this most important event in the life of an athlete,” she wrote, tagging her coaches in the post.
“You are absolute masters in your field! And you not only train, but also teach to overcome yourself, which helps not only in sports, but also in life. With you by my side, I feel protected and able to pass any test. Thank you for helping me be strong.”
Valieva made international headlines earlier this month after she failed a drug test due to a heart medication, trimetazidine, that is considered a banned substance. The sample tested was taken following a December meet, but was not revealed until after Valieva led the Russian Olympic Committee to gold in the team event with a historic quad jump. The medal ceremony for the event was subsequently delayed.
The teen was later cleared to continue competing following an appeal of her interim ban. The International Olympic Committee has said different rules apply to minors, making Valieva a “protected person.”
Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze also addressed the situation in a separate post on Instagram this week.
“Kamila Valieva — Olympic champion in team competitions, our star. Very fragile and at the same time very strong athlete. The test that fell to Camila, our whole team needs to go through together,” Tutberidze wrote alongside a collage of photos from the Olympics.
“How indicative are such situations — those who were smiling yesterday, today left the stands, defiantly ignored and attacked like jackals, offering different methods of inquisition. So much the better, fate takes these people away from us, as if exposing the truth.”
An emotional Valieva was in tears after she failed to land a jump during the individual event and fell to fourth in the figure skating finale last week.
Anna Shcherbakova, 17, Valieva’s teammate, won the individual gold. Another teammate, Alexandra Trusova, secured silver.