Russian Kirill Abrosimov, a three-time European champion in open water, is struggling with motivation amid his country’s ban from international competition.
Abrosimov, 30, swept the men’s 5k and 10k at the 2012 European Open Water Championships, and added a third title in 2016 when he reclaimed the 5k title. Most recently, he won bronze in the men’s 25k at the 2020 European Championships, which took place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also competed in the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, placing 19th in the men’s 10k.
The pandemic was the first hurdle for athletes around the world, essentially having to sit out of all competition for a year.
Abrosimov and his fellow Russian athletes find themselves in a very similar situation now, with the country’s athletes banned from the majority of international sports due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
For Abrosimov, the lack of racing is beginning to take its toll, especially given that his competitive window is slowly closing.
“For me personally, another season without international starts after 2020 with quarantine is a huge step back and a loss of motivation,” he told MatchTV (via translation), a state-run news agency in Russia.
“I lived in dreams of international medals, which I prepared for and longed to win. At the age of 30, when there is still strength and opportunity to compete in the international arena, you need to cling to every chance and try to achieve your goals so that you don’t regret it later when you finish your career.
“How to force yourself into (racing opportunities) is still a question, but I’m trying to look for options.”
Abrosimov has gotten a few races under his belt when a chance presents itself, including winning the 5k at the Russian Championships earlier this month in the Krasnodar Territory.
FINA has banned all Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any of its events through the end of 2022.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, some 204 days ago. There have been at least 5,800 civilians killed.