ZHANGJIAKOU, China (AP) — Defending champion Oleksandr Abramenko won Ukraine’s first medal at the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday and celebrated by receiving a hug from Russian skier Ilia Burov at a time of growing tensions between the countries .
Qi Guangpu of China won the men’s aerials event while Abramenko took silver. Burov won bronze for the second consecutive Olympics.
“I’m so happy with this silver medal and really proud of myself to have won the first medal for Ukraine at these Games,” said Abramenko. “I’m really happy to have done my five bounces, although the landing was not really good, but enough for second place.”
Abramenko won gold in jumping at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
Qi and Abramenko waved their countries’ flags on the podium, while Burov pointed to a logo on his left arm for the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC. Russians competed under this acronym after Russia’s name and flag were banned from the Olympics following the country’s doping scandal.
Ukrainian skeleton athlete Vladyslav Heraskevych flashed a small sign reading ‘No war in Ukraine’ at the cameras as he finished a race last week, and the Ukrainian Olympic team followed up with a plea for peace the next day. No Ukrainian athlete protested in competition.
Russian forces threaten Ukraine along the eastern border and from the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. Other Russian troops threaten Ukraine in Belarus, where they have been deployed for large-scale joint exercises.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he welcomed a security dialogue with the West, and his military said it had withdrawn some of its troops near Ukraine. Western officials say a Russian invasion could be imminent, but Russia has denied any intention to invade.
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