Darya Klishina will not only face the challenge of going against the world's best long jumpers at the 2016 Olympics. The Russian also must bear the weight of being called a traitor back home and the pressure of being Russia's sole track and field athlete in Rio.
"She will put on her blinders and just concentrate alone on the competition," Klishina's Australian coach Loren Seagrave said. "That is our plan. We don't want to get in anybody's way."
The athletics world ruling body IAAF banned Russia's athletics team from competing at Rio 2016. But while 67 Russians were stripped of their tickets to Brazil, Klishina was allowed to start in the long jump.
The reason for the IAAF exception was that Klishina has been training the last three years at the IMG Academy in Florida. The 25-year-old was the only Russian track and field athlete who could prove she was tested by an international anti-doping organisation and not involved in Russia's systematic doping.
When Klishina was cleared by the IAAF, the 2011 and 2013 indoor European champion wrote on her Facebook page that she was "really happy" about the decision. She also thanked her agents and sponsors as well as the IMG Academy for creating "the best possible, safe and clean environment for me."
There was no mention of regret or sorrow for her Russian teammates who must stay at home, however, setting off a storm of indignation on social media with Klishina being bashed as a traitor.
Klishina struggled with all the negative attention, saying: "It's wrong to criticise me and call me a traitor."
She said she's been in the United States for the last three years, during which the whole situation in Russia changed. But all justifications of her spot in Rio will not keep the world from focusing on her when she competes in the long jump qualifications on August 16.
"Now I am under pressure and am facing increased attention, which is not always positive," Klishina said.
Seagrave believes in Klishina, saying: "She is in great form and won the nationals with a jump of 6.84m."
That distance is not expected to be enough for a medal in Rio. But just competing at the 2016 Olympics will be special for Klishina.
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