Warsaw, Poland – Kristina Timanovskaya, the Belarusian athlete who sought asylum in Warsaw after her high-profile defection during the Tokyo Olympics, revealed plans to run under Polish colours in the future.
Kristina Timanovskaya announces desire to run for Poland
In an interview with the RBC television channel aired earlier this week, the 24-year-old sprinter said she would like to apply for the Polish sporting citizenship in order to run for Poland in future competitions.
The entire process of changing sporting citizenship can take up to three years, but the young Belarusian runner expressed hopes her application could be fast-tracked.
“We are planning to stay in Poland and continue our careers here. We have turned to the Ministry of Sports, turned to the Polish athletics national team, with issues regarding a coach, a group and a place where I can train and many other issues regarding the continuation of my sports career here in Poland,” she said alongside her husband, Arseni Zdanevich, who joined her in Poland following her defection from Tokyo.
Both have been granted a humanitarian visa by Polish authorities.
Ms. Timanovskaya was granted protection and flew to Poland earlier this month when Belarusian officials tried to force her on a flight back to Minsk after she criticized her coaches from the national Olympics team.
Reports suggest she is now under the constant protection of bodyguards.
“I would like to go back to normal, to visit the city and enjoy the summer, but I understand that it is dangerous,” she recently said. “I got messages from people saying if they saw me, they would disembowel me. I know that now it is best to be safe, I understand that it would not be smart to show up in front of many people.”
The case drew international attention, with several European countries, including the Czech Republic and Poland, offering her asylum and political protection.
Alexander Lukashenko, the embattled Belarusian President whose violent crackdown on protesters and critics has sparked an international outcry and led Western countries to adopt a string of sanctions against the regime, claimed the 24-year-old sprinter had been “manipulated” by outside forces in her decision to flee abroad.