Russian speedskater celebrates beating Team USA by flipping ‘double bird’ – but insists it was just to indicate his FIRST Olympic medal
- Speedskater Daniil Aldoshkin, along with his teammates, beat the US to the final
- The win guaranteed the ROC skaters at least a silver Olympic medal in Beijing
- Seconds after crossing finish line, Aldoshkin raised his arms and flipped the bird
- He has since apologised and claimed it was to indicate his first Olympic medal
- Russia’s Skating Union president insisted there was no subtext behind gesture
A Russian speedskater has apologised for sticking his two middle fingers up at the crowd after beating the USA in the men’s team pursuit semifinals in Beijing.
Daniil Aldoshkin, along with his Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) teammates Sergei Trofimov and Ruslan Zakharov, won a thrilling semifinal race against the world record holders from the United States.
But as he passed the finish line, the 20-year-old raised both arms in celebration, and flipped a ‘double-bird’ to the watching crowd.
He has since claimed that the gesture was to indicate that he won his first Olympic medal, while Russia’s Skating Union president insisted there was no subtext behind the gesture, at a time when the ROC and Russia is in the news for the wrong reasons.
Daniil Aldoshkin of Team Russian Olympic Committee sticks his two middle fingers up at the crowd after his team’s heat in the speedskating men’s team pursuit semifinals at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, February 15, 202
‘I threw up my hands, I have the first medal, the first Olympics,’ Aldoshkin told RT.com after the race, apologising for the incident that was caught on camera.
‘I didn’t mean anything like that. I’m sorry if this offended anyone,’ he added.
Zakharov also came forward to defend his teammate.
‘In speed skating, we fight against time, not against an opponent. It was purely an emotional reaction,’ Zakharov told RT.
The Russians set an Olympic record in the event in their semi-final performance to advance to the gold medal final against defending champion Norway.
They crossed the line in 3 minutes, 36.62 seconds, beating the Olympic record of 3:37.08 set four years ago by the Norwegians.
But in the final, Norway won the gold medal for the second straight Olympics, convincingly beating out the Russians.
Halgeir Engebroten of the winning Norwegian team also defended the skater.
‘I think it’s just a reaction to the fact that the guys made it to the final. He explained everything, that’s enough for me,’ the gold medal winner said.
The Russians (pictured) set an Olympic record in the event in their semi-final performance to advance to the gold medal final against defending champion Norway
Russian Skating Union president Alexei Kravtsov also apologised for Aldoshkin’s semi-final celebration, calling it an ‘outburst of emotion’, stressing that there was no subtext behind the gesture.
‘Emotions took over at the finish line, there was no subtext in this action,’ Kravtsov said to RT.
‘We are sorry if someone differently perceived this situation and (it) offended someone. On behalf of the Russian Skating Union, we offer our official apologies.’
Norway won the gold-medal final with a time of 3 minutes, 38.08 seconds – nearly 2 1/2 seconds ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee.
The Norwegian trio of Hallgeir Engebraaten, Peder Kongshaug and Sverre Lunde Pedersen defeated the Netherlands in the semifinals, then led all the way in the final against the ROC. The USA claimed the Bronze in the third-place decider.
The ROC cannot compete under the Russian flag after Russia was banned from all international sport by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2019, after it was found to have manipulated data to protect athletes involved in its state-sponsored doping scheme, that was discovered earlier in 2017.
In the final, Norway won the gold medal for the second straight Olympics, convincingly beating out the Russians, who claimed silver. Pictured: Silver Medallists Daniil Aldoshkin, Sergei Trofimov and Ruslan Zakharov of Team ROC pose with their medals on Tuesday
While the punishment was reduced upon review by the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS), Russian athletes have had to compete under the title of the ROC, as opposed to ‘Russia’ and the Russian flag, at Olympic Games held since the WADA ruling.
However, the ROC became embroiled in another doping-related scandal during this year’s Winter Games when it was revealed 15-year-old Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned drug in December.
CAS this week ruled that she had broken doping rules after one of her samples from December tested positive for trimetazidine – heart medication that can also be used as a performance enhancing drug.
But they allowed her to continue competing at the event, saying that she is a ‘protected person’ who could suffer ‘irreparable harm’ from a ban.
Olympic officials then announced that she would not be awarded any more medals at the games, and the medal ceremony would be cancelled if she finished in the top three in further events – which she later did on Tuesday.
Before her performance on Tuesday, it was revealed her team had claimed Valieva failed the doping test before the Beijing Winter Olympics because of contamination from medication her grandfather was taking.
And in addition to testing positive for the banned angina drug trimetazidine, a New York Times report said yesterday the Stockholm laboratory that analysed Kamila Valieva’s sample also found evidence of two other heart medications that are not on the banned list: hypoxen and L-Carnitine.
The ROC became embroiled in another doping-related scandal during this year’s Winter Games when it was revealed 15-year-old Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva (pictured on Tuesday) tested positive for a banned drug in December
Aldoshkin’s celebration also came at a time when Russia is under fire for massing as many as 150,000 troops on its borders with Ukraine.
While western fears that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent have eased in recent days, they have not entirely disappeared.
Diplomatic efforts to avert war got new energy after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was willing to discuss security issues with NATO, and Russia said it was withdrawing some of its troops gathered near Ukraine’s borders.
But US. President Joe Biden said today 150,000 Russian troops are massed to the north, south and east of Ukraine, and Western officials said a Russian invasion could still happen at the drop of a hat.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has announced that some units participating in military exercises will begin returning to their bases, a statement welcomed as ‘a good signal’ by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of a trainload of armored vehicles leaving Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
After the medals had been handed out for the men’s speedskating event, Aldoshkin posted to Instagram about his experience on winning silver in Tuesday’s race.
‘I want to write a lot of words, I want to express a lot of emotions, but then there will be too much text. In short, everything worked out!’ he wrote in a caption to a selection of images of him competing in Beijing.
‘Once in an interview, I created a bar for myself, according to which I evaluate my results to this day – if the Coach is satisfied, then I should be satisfied.
‘The coach yesterday was satisfied, I hope in general, many thanks to everyone, you have no idea how nice it is to receive words of support and congratulations from everyone,’ Aldoshkin wrote, adding, ‘P.s silver treats bruises under the eyes.’
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