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‘They shouldn’t be here’: USA rower hits out Russians after losing medal to them

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US rower Megan Kalmoe blasted a pair of Russian competitors who won a silver in Tokyo while Team USA reached the B-final in the event. 

Russia is officially banned from competing in the Tokyo Olympics because of their state-sponsored doping programme, but while their country’s flag and anthem won’t be used during the games, Russian athletes are still taking part under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC. 

Ms Kalmoe, a four-time Olympic rower and member of the women’s pair that reached the B-final, shared her frustration with the Russian participation following the B-final where Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia managed to grab the silver medal. 

“Seeing a crew who shouldn’t even be here walk away with a silver is a nasty feeling,” Ms Kalmoe wrote on Twitter. “Really disappointing overall and I feel for the other athletes in the A-Final. Big love to all my friends and frenemies who gave it everything out there.”

In their semifinal on Wednesday, the Russians got second place and the Americans placed fifth. The top three advanced to the A-final. 

“Well, I just posted on Twitter a couple of things that I’m sure some people will be upset about, or maybe they won’t,” Ms Kalmoe told row2k.com. “But I think a lot of people in this field are very, very classy women who are probably a little bit too polite to say some of the stuff that I’m willing to say, especially because I wasn’t in the A-final, and also because Russia beat us by enough places in our qualifier that they didn’t take a spot from us, but having them here and having them walk away with one of the medals was really hard for me to watch.”

“I don’t think that they should have been here, and there are a lot of women here that I think were very qualified to win one of those medals, and them not having that opportunity because that boat was here was very problematic for me as a competitor,” she added. 

Her comments come after two rowers in the Russian men’s quadruple sculls tested positive for a banned substance. But the violations occurred during testing outside of competition in June, and the Russian boat was set to compete after swapping out the rowers who tested positive. 

But the Russian Rowing Federation decided that the two new athletes weren’t ready to take part in the Olympics and instead withdrew the boat, leaving a spot open that the International Olympic Committee gave to Lithuania

The Lithuanian team placed eighth and last in their competition after arriving at the Tokyo games without having been able to prepare properly. 

The ROC has 335 athletes participating in the 2020 Olympics. So far, they have won 28 medals – eight golds, 11 silvers, and nine bronze medals. 

The US is currently at the top of the medal count with 38 medals. China has gathered 31 medals, but one more gold medal than the US – 15 to 14. Host nation Japan also has 15 golds, but a lower total medal count of 25.  

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