We wrote about Russian athlete and The Witcher superfan Vitalina Batsarashkina back in 2016 when she won a silver medal in the 10m air pistol at the Rio Olympics. At this year’s games she’s back with the same Witcher gear, only this time she won gold.
Of course we didn’t write about Batsarashkina just because she’s a Witcher fan. Most athletes at these games will be a fan of some kind of video game, and loads are probably obsessed with everything from Pokémon to Skyrim to League of Legends.
What sets Batsarashkina apart is that she actually competes in her event wearing Witcher stuff. In 2016 it was a Witcher medallion hanging from her pants and some Witcher illustrations on her shooting glasses. In 2021 she’s worn another Witcher medallion, only this time it was around her neck.
I joked last time that, “If anyone on Earth is going to be more happy with silver than gold, it’s going to be a Witcher fan,” but really, since she’s an athlete, of course gold is better. So congratulations!
She beat Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Kostadinova, who won silver, and China’s Jiang Ranxin, who took home bronze. You can see video of the final on ABC’s website.
Batsarashkina’s gold was the first gold medal for the “ROC”—the Russian Olympic Committee—at the Tokyo games. While consisting of a bunch of Russian athletes, they’re technically not representing Russia because, as NBC summarises here, the country has been found using some pretty wide-scale systematic doping at international sporting events:
Russia received a two-year ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency for its state-sponsored doping program. Between December 17, 2020, and December 17, 2022, no athlete can represent Russia at the Olympics, Paralympics or World Championships.
The ban was originally set to last four years, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced it to two years. The state-sponsored doping program was revealed in 2016 and included at least 15 medal winners from the 2014 Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia.