Kamila Vaileva broke down in tears in devastating scenes at the Winter Olympics on Thursday after falling in the women's figure skating final and missing a medal.
Russian teammate Anna Shcherbakova took gold after the 15-year-old Valieva fell several times - to gasps and screams from the crowd - in a disastrous routine.
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Valieva has been embroiled in scandal in Beijing after failing a doping test, however she was allowed to keep skating until the case is resolved.
The controversy seemed to get the better of the 15-year-old as she fell several times on Thursday before breaking down in tears when receiving her score.
"The importance of this is so huge that I cannot fully understand it yet," said Shcherbakova - herself only 17.
"Now I feel really happy, I showed the best skating at the right moment and right place."
There were high emotions in the Russian camp, with an angry Alexandra Trusova (who won silver) caught on camera saying: "I hate this sport, I hate this sport, I hate all of it. I won't go to the medal ceremony... I don't want to go."
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) February 17, 2022
Valieva had been in pole position after topping the short program on Tuesday and had been expected to add the singles title to the team crown she led Russia to before the doping controversy erupted.
The International Olympic Committee had said that for the first time in Olympic history, no medals would be awarded if Valieva finished in the top three because she could yet be punished for taking a banned substance.
NBC commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, who had been vocal about the disdain that Valieva was allowed to keep skating, were brutal in their reactions to her fall.
“Thank God!" Lipinski exclaimed. “Thank goodness for all the other medallists to have that moment.”
Weir added: “And to have done it cleanly.”
Sad end to Kamila Valieva's Winter Olympics campaign
In the end that was not a factor as Valieva, dressed in black and red, fell several times in her routine.
The distraught teenager had her head in her hands at the end and then broke down as she waited to hear her score.
It was the latest sad chapter in a doping saga which began when Valieva's sample from December 25 tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can boost endurance.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled during the Games that Valieva could continue to skate in the Olympics, but it did not absolve her of doping and the investigation looks set to rumble on well after the action ends in Beijing.
There will be no medal ceremony during these Games for the team event because of Valieva's involvement.
“I watched Kamila but probably did not understand what I was experiencing,” Shcherbakova said.
"Of course, I was very nervous for her during the skate because from the very first jump it was clear that the skate is going very hard and I understand perfectly what an athlete feels at those moments.”
Moments after Valieva departed the arena, workers began setting up for a flower ceremony that the International Olympic Committee said wouldn't take place if she was in the top three.
Medals will be handed out Friday in a ceremony that also would not have occurred in Beijing had Valieva reached the podium.
“I'm happy that there will be a ceremony, that we are going to get our medals,” said Trusova, who refused to answer any questions about Valieva.
“Of course, it will be extremely pleasant for me to receive my medal.”
Kamila Valieva failed to medal, which was pretty devastating to watch. None of that discounts the fact that she's the best figure skater in the world (arguably the best of all time). pic.twitter.com/FBuYeGC9tZ
— art tavana (@arttavana) February 17, 2022
This is all so devastating – not only heartbreaking for Valieva but also for Scherbakova, who didn't even get the full support & celebration that she deserved after winning the gold medal! Scherbakova is an absolute class act but I'm so sad for her too https://t.co/7II5AgF57k
— Grace Panetta (@grace_panetta) February 17, 2022
— Kelly (@KellySotherton) February 17, 2022
Kamila Valieva should not have been allowed to compete. Rules are rules like they stated in the summer Olympics. Now she ended the Olympics with a devastating ending that should have been avoided. Too much pressure for a 15 year old already.
— gennnnnn 💛 (@pineapple_curlz) February 17, 2022
— Ben 🇬🇧 (@BenoftheFen) February 17, 2022
My heart breaks for Valieva, watching her skate earlier with the world on her shoulders was awful! I hate doping, but I genuinely don’t believe this was her doing and for the IOC to continue to subject her to this was completely unfair - she’s a child ffs #Valieva #OlympicGames
— Hannah🌸 (@hannah_parisx) February 17, 2022
say what u want about the kamila valieva situation but watching her routine was so sad, that girl has so much pressure from her coaches she’s just a kid :/
— caroline (@carlashburn) February 17, 2022
Watching the end of the Women's Free Skate was tough.
Those poor kids were utterly broken, I've never seen an Olympic gold medalist look so sad, lost and forlorn.
Just awful and reading the translations of what Eteri said to Valieva made my blood boil.
— Collette Morris (@PinkColl) February 17, 2022
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