Kamila Valieva got a hero’s welcome as she arrived home in Moscow after the Winter Olympics.
Valieva was given flowers and cheered by adoring fans at the airport.
She later posted a message of thanks to her fans, before attending a pop concert.
Kamila Valieva got a hero’s welcome, posted a message of thanks to her fans, and toasted her return home to Russia with a trip to a concert after her turbulent two weeks at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The 15-year-old Valieva became the biggest story of the games after it was revealed that she had tested positive for a banned substance, putting her participation in the Winter Olympics in jeopardy. It also raised ethical questions about whether minors should be allowed to compete in the world’s biggest sporting event.
Valieva won team gold for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and was a favorite to win individual gold, but failed to do so in the pressure cooker of the Capital Indoor Stadium after days of intense global scrutiny.
Valieva, who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine in December, but was allowed to continue competing for the ROC in Beijing, fell multiple times during her final routine, which resulted in her finishing outside of the medals.
After her positive test was revealed, Valieva did not speak to the press, ignoring reporters following her skate in the women’s short program last Tuesday.
Since leaving Beijing, however, she has been seen in public twice, first being given a warm welcome as she arrived home at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, then appearing at a concert by rising Russian popstar Vanya Dmitrienko.
As she arrived in Moscow on February 18, the day after the women’s finals, Valieva was presented with flowers and cheered by fans holding banners with her face. She did not speak to waiting reporters.
On Monday, however, she broke her silence, by posting a message of thanks to her fans on Instagram.
“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,” she wrote alongside several photos of billboards and banners bearing her likeness.
“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.
Valieva, who is already back in training, then let her hair down by attending a concert by Dmitrienko, a 20-year-old popstar. Valieva posted a smiling photo with Dmitrienko to her Instagram story, in which she made a peace sign.
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