Viktoriya’s Victorious Transit: Solntseva & Ukraine To Zeynep Gunes & Turkish Delight

Viktoriya Gunes - ragout from haber7 as she was set to travel with her new passport for the first time last December

Viktoriya Zeynep Gunes set a Turkish record of 2:23.47 for gold at Spanish Nationals in Malaga today. Viktoriya who? Beyond the Russian invasion of Crimea, the flight of a family, a new home, a new name, a World Junior champion from Ukraine emerges to race again

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Viktoriya Zeynep Gunes set a Turkish record of 2:23.47 for gold at Spanish Nationals in Malaga today. Viktoriya who? Beyond the Russian invasion of Crimea, the flight of a family, a new home, a new name, a World Junior champion from Ukraine emerges to race again

Comments

Felixtzu

Any information on the nature of the strife with the Ukrainian federation?

If the family are anti-Russian Crimean, one would think that was all the more reason to continue representing Ukraine out of solidarity.

Craig Lord

The two things were not linked, Felixztu … will look up nature of the disagreement when I get a chance but the country switch followed the family having to flee Crimea and once in a new place understanding how a new life all round was the best option for the family.

aswimfan

Felixtzu,

Having experienced and lived in a few of world’s conflict area, I am sure their situation was not as easy as “all the more reason to continue representing Ukraine out of solidarity”.

And I am impressed with FINA’s handling of this situation, a delicate situation where their not publishing the facts was appropriate, as opposed to their doping situation handling.

aswimfan

I was aiming for the word “discreet” instead of “not publishing the facts”

beachmouse

As someone who follows athletics as well as swimming, seeing that particular passport along with a good result makes me shudder involuntarily. I really hope her team is keeping her far, far away from the people responsible for such gems as a 31 athletes as a group getting a two year ban for doping a while back.

Best of luck to her going forward, and may she avoid the temptations and show good results swimming clean.

dpexpe

The story is very simple. They wanted some money so they move to Istanbul.

Felixtzu

Craig, thanks, they were linked in one sentence in the article, but I meant them as separate points.

aswimfan, I really don’t see what you’re taking umbrage with. At no point did I say anything was easy, just that one would think that would be the natural reaction. Most of the time it is. Conflict often makes sports people more nationalistic. If you’re suggesting that we can’t discuss, let alone, question her decision because she’s emerged from a ‘conflict’ area, well, that’s ludicrously over-sensitive.

aswimfan

I didn’t mean that we cannot discuss it.

I meant that we have knowledge whatsoever about their situation, except that they flee Crimea. And therefore representing Ukraine may not be the natural reaction you are suggesting.

aswimfan

Doh

I meant that we have NO knowledge…

Craig Lord

It was clear what you meant aswimfan. And this comment not for you but I post it here to the Russian reader who sent in threats: you do yourself and your country no service if you think that the way to go is to threaten, cajole, warn and bully any who report what you don’t like to read.

Felixtzu

Well ,we have no knowledge, so let’s speculate.

Representing your home nation is the natural reaction in all situations until we have any other information. So, is there anything here to suggest why they would turn against Ukraine? Not obviously, apart from a previous disagreement with the federation.

Now, into murkier waters. Turkey has certainly ‘bought’ elite athletes in the past; is the move primarily financial? Those who didn’t follow the Crimea situation too closely may read about a family fleeing their home and equate them with refugees, mistakenly thinking that there was an actual conflict and threat to civilians. That was not the case. No doubt, even a nearly bloodless coup can be very stressful for the citizen, but our resident conflict area expert will know that in the grand scheme of things Crimea was never dangerous for the private citizen.

Again, that’s not to say that the situation might not be very stressful if you do not wish to part of Russia: of course, some of the anti-Russian minority may wish to leave the area, that’s to be expected. However, is the conflict being slightly used as a smokescreen (ironic for the lack of actual smoke) for a mercenary decision?

Craig Lord

Felixtzu: right now, we can only go off what we read in the quotes and articles we see in the Turkish media. But if we are to speculate in that way, the timing of events is important: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26644082 …. It was March when this particular family fled their home, at a time when there was clear evidence that what had been a quiet occupation was going to turn less peaceful for anyone who disagreed with those rolling in across the border. I’m not sure we can say there was no threat to civilians. Watching a tank roll by may well seem pretty threatening (not only stressful) in most circumstances … certainly might well have been interpreted as a possible threat to the regular routine of daily training and school for a teenage swimmer.
And on that swimming and funding note: Turkey may well have offered money and financial stability and if that is a part of this picture then it may well be that a combination of circumstances led this family to make the decision they made.
As I read the coverage of this swimmer’s story, I don’t see any over-emphasis on the “war-torn refugee”. It reads as though they felt they had to go and they wanted a new swim home for their daughter. They had several choices – and it would be no surprise to find that the financial offers (or lack of) on the table played a part in the financial decision-making process at a time of up-root and new start.

Felixtzu

‘Clear evidence’ … Maybe more like speculation in Western media. Did anything happen that suggested a threat to the non-belligerent private individual who peacefully disagreed. Even those who held demonstrations were left unharassed – a rather different attitude to the safe haven Turkey. And bear in mind that during this period the destination country has been vocally complaining about the number of actual refugees, from an actual war it has had to deal with.

Again, that’s not say there was no reason to leave, but switching nationality (and name) is a significantly further step than leaving Crimea.

The intention is not to come across as judgemental, just an interest in the facts. If the family felt they had to leave Crimea, maybe they took an understandably mercenary decision because they didn’t have the resources to build a new life in Ukraine, or just felt it would be more of a struggle. It would be interesting to know if the initial friction with the federation had a financial aspect, or indeed, if the federation offered any support for a resettlement in Ukraine.

Craig Lord

felixtzu, I think you’re not being sensitive enough to people who actually have to live with a foreign (regardless of whether you feel more Russian or not) force rolling in, quietly or otherwise. It is not beyond the bounds to have seen this coming:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31392473
Regardless of who’s side anyone may take – and even for those who are neutral – there was no question that the situation was dangerous and would have been perceived as distinctly threatening to some members of the community in question.
I agree that there are questions hanging in the air in swimming terms.
Yes, it would be good to know more about the argument with one swim fed and the arrangement made with another. One would hope those were among topics raised by FINA in private talks when considering whether a transfer application ought to be granted. The rules state that both federations must agree – in this case, it would seem that Ukraine had no say until the deed was done. The circumstances under which that might have made sense are not in the public domain, as far as I can see… and it is not easy to see how the conflict with Russia would have been an argument for keeping the Ukraine Fed out of the loop given that this family sees itself as being from Ukraine, not Russia.

beachmouse

No point in arguing with most pro-Russian types these days about Ukraine. They’re actually more delusional about that than the typical American was about the need for the Iraq war in 2003.

Me, I’m on the side of the family trying to find a place to live that is in their own best interests for long term well-being and financial security, and, provided you’re acting in an ethical manner, you have to put that first in life over allegiance to any given country. (Though I also think that passing on Sweden over the cold was probably a mistake in the bigger picture of things.)

Felixtzu

beachmouse, that’s fine if you apply it across the board, but often athletes switching nationalities receive a lot of criticism even though they can rightly say that they’re looking out for their family’s well-being and financial security.

Politics is best left off a swimming website, but maybe you should steer away from such sweeping statements in general. The world is a complicated place.

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