Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ukrainian Athlete Gives Up Her Olympic Dreams

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska has withdrawn from the Olympics in response to the deaths of anti-government protesters in her country.  "I don't want to participate when in my country people die," the anguished athlete told reporters. "I am in Maidan but just with my soul."

The 24-year-old skier is now refusing to ski Friday in the slalom, despite the fact that it is her best event at the Sochi Olympics.

Matsotska wants to leave the Olympics immediately to join protesters in the camp (known as "Maidan") in Kiev's Independence Square, but said she has been unable to book a flight home.  Matsotska has the full support of her father and coach Oleg Matsotskyy.  "We made this decision together. It is really hard for a sportsman and coach," she said. "The people are dying and my friends and family are there and I cannot race after all this in Ukraine going on."

"I think as a minimum [President Yanukovych] has to be jailed, and for a long time," Matsotska added. "For all the lives that he took, for all the lives of innocent people that came peacefully to stand for their opinion.  I hope that I will be heard by the world and that probably somebody will step in and will help.  Instead of resolving the conflict through negotiations (which we had hoped he would when we left for Sochi), he has drenched the last hopes of the nation in blood."

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