Kharlan almost suffered nervous breakdown after odious Fencing World Championship DQ

1 August, 07:17 PM
Olha Kharlan (Photo:Facebook)

Olha Kharlan (Photo:Facebook)

After the referee correctly gave her the win after a dominating performance against Russia’s Anna Smirnova, the FIE decided to disqualify the six-time world champion for not shaking hands with her opponent.

Kharlan instead offered to “clash swords”, an appropriate sign of respect that had been recognized by the FIE until the night before Kharlan’s match.

Video of day

“I sobbed and screamed. That’s what I did,” Kharlan told Suspilne in an interview.

“My team was sitting next to me; the epee girls were sitting next to me. People could not enter the ‘box’ because such things were happening there. I was hysterical, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I think. It was such an injustice that it just broke my heart.”

“I had – and still have – such anger for what they do. They do not show the Russian side of people at all. How they act in sports proves that they are not human. It doesn’t matter in what field they do it. They are inhumane in war, how they torture and kill. They shoot their rockets and so on. It’s the same here, there are no exceptions at all.”

The FIE’s decision to disqualify one of the sport’s most marketable athletes caused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to intervene.

IOC President Thomas Bach awarded Kharlan with automatic Olympic qualification and implicitly chastised the FIE for not being “sensitive” to Ukrainian athletes.

Kharlan earlier told Tribuna what she said to Smirnova after winning the scandalous match.

“I told her that I would not shake her hand. That’s all I said. I said, ‘I’m not going to shake your hand.”

The Ukrainian Fencing Federation later demanded that Smirnova be stripped of her neutral status because of her activity on Instagram, where she openly demonstrates support for the Russian army.

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