Betina Popova: Sport isn’t only the brilliance of medals, it’s thousands of broken children

Posted on 2020-06-30 • No comments yet


Betina Popova who has recently finished her skating career shares very openly some difficult moments about being a professional athlete.

About missed opportunities

Betina: Here should have been my photo from the prom. But there’s no such. As there was no prom in my life.

Being a very responsible athlete, I couldn’t even think about missing practice because of prom. And only now I understand how many bright moments of my life were missed just like that. I was never afraid to miss the events that happen only once in life and was terribly afraid to miss practice that happens twice a day. How clouded my mind was and how perverted my priorities were. Today, looking back, I understand that it was a crime to deny myself simple human joys. I stole childhood dreams from myself, moments of happiness and many smiles.

Two days after the competition – that’s how much time I had for my youth.

As is the case of all girls, athletes at a young age – the sport occupied all my thoughts.

Regarding figure skating, I was a crazy fanatic. To this day, all my surroundings are people associated with my sport. I had no time for friends, for entertainment, or for first love. All my thoughts were: training-study-not to eat-training-study-not to eat. Coaches cultivated the direction of these thoughts and fears non-stop. On the way to the rink and home I did my home work. At home, lying in bed, I repeated programs in my head. I could spend four free hours a day on a four-hour cross, just to lose the extra hundred grams.

All life was divided into preparation for the competitions and the competitions itself. One competitions ended – two days of rest, and we begin to prepare for the next ones. In these two days, I could begin to live, breathe and communicate, despite the controversial prohibitions on communicating with my rivals.

Later, I started to realize that with such a slavish approach imposed on me, it’s impossible to become successful. An empty man is not interesting to anyone, no matter how devoted he is to his work.

Athletes grow up quickly, they have no childhood, they have no youth. Sport is not only the brilliance of medals and pedestals, it is thousands of broken children.

About partnership

Betina: In one of my interviews, I said that figure skating taught me how to understand men. It’s really so. But a strange thing … Me, a 12 year old girl, is paired with an older guy. From the age of 12 I endure mockery from my partner and hear from everyone that he has a transitional age and I need to be patient. At age of 14, I was asked to show “sexuality” and “passion” in the dance and the attitude towards this boy. Having no idea what it is, by trial and mistakes I was looking for what was required of me.

Then we get older. Our relationships also develop, becoming more complex and ambiguous. From everyone around, I continue to hear that I need to endure, because it is such an age. Trying to maintain comfortable conditions in a pair, I become a friend, and a colleague, and a companion, and a nanny, and a driver, and a doctor, and anyone else for the partner. From the side I hear again: partners should be protected, because there are so few of them, you need to fight for them, you have to endure. And by a certain age, I understand that it is not a problem for me to find a common language with any man. For me, the problem is to be a woman next to him.

Established from the age of 12, the perverted concept of the relationship between a man and a woman did not allow me to look soberly at a relationship for a long time.

One day at the Grand Prix Final, at a six-minute warm-up, we fell from a lift. Waiting for our turn to skate, the entire coaching staff crowded around my partner, who hit a hip, but, having hit my stomach and diaphragm, I could not even breathe and I had tears in my eyes. But I did not tell about it at all, because you need to pity your partner, he needs it more, you need to endure.

If my partner was ill, he always had the opportunity to be healed; when I was sick, I did not allow myself to miss trainings, because so many were already missed. I am strong, I can endure.

To provide a partner, to act to mine detriment, to work in constant fear of loss (since if you did something wrong, you were immediately told that he would find another partner) – it took a long time to throw all this experience out of my head.

from Betina Popova’s Instagram


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