Tokyo Olympics: Serghei Tarnovschi, his second chance is making waves

In a film in the series Rocky, we would easily give him the role of the villain. The brush hair, the dark gaze, the protruding muscle. Well, and a little youthful air that softens it. But still: Serghei Tarnovschi is the bad boy of his discipline, which does not make the punch, but disperses adversity with blows of the oar. Céiste, the guy, a specialist in the 1,000m sprint, on his knees in his boat and the shovel which activates sternly.

Cheating in Rio

The native Ukrainian made a name for himself very early on in his community. Excellence first. His dad and mom are paddlers and damn it can’t lie. With his brother Oleg, they are very early on the water. And Serghei stood out at the age of 17, in 2014, by becoming Moldovan that year, but above all by giving his new country its first gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (China).

→ EDITORIAL. “Together” at the Tokyo Olympics

Trajectory launched. Two years later, in Rio, he is already on the Olympic podium, in bronze. Young man in a hurry. Too much. A positive doping test reveals that he took growth hormones. He must return his medal, and receives a four-year suspension. An entire Olympiad. Farewell to the Tokyo Games.

A little appreciated return

Broken trajectory? The guy does not disassemble. He trains, alone or with his brother, never gives up. Crazy determination, but good inspiration. The postponement of the Games for a year opens his horizon. In September 2020, he can finally return to the competition circuit. Without any benchmarks for four years. But badaboum: he wins. Under the sidelong glances of his opponents.

It remains to qualify for Japan. He will do so, in extremis at the end of May 2021, on the last race offering a ticket for Tokyo. It is imperative to win, he does not miss the boat. Ironically, he was ahead of the Russian Ilya Shtokalov that day, the same one who had recovered his bronze medal in Rio.

“Some athletes have welcomed me, others don’t like me”, notes the ghost, little talkative, racing this Friday August 6 at 3 am. How to blame them? And for his part, how to convince that at 24, he is no longer the same? In the cinema, there are often happy ends. Sometimes even for the bad guys.


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