World championship bronze medalist Elena Radionova has revealed how iconic coach Tatiana Tarasova pleaded with her to try to lose weight, asking unsuccessfully as the figure skating star battled a hormone problem before retiring.
Ice queen Radionova was forced to officially quit the sport in September after realizing that she could no longer achieve the required physique to compete, failing to qualify for the 2018 Olympic Games in a nightmare final few years of her career.
The 2015 Russian national champion battled weight gain and depression before leaving worried coach Elena Buyanova, and Tarasova, who has guided athletes to eight Olympic gold medals, tried to help her salvage her sporting ambitions while warning her to eat less.
“She hurt my pride but I understand that she only wanted good things for me,” Radionova told a reporter, reflecting on her efforts to hit the heights again before deciding to put her health first.
“In no sense was it a case of, ‘Oh, what should I do after these words?’ If I were to some extent a weak person by nature, I probably would have been broken by her words.
“But…because of my character, her words only mobilized and helped me. I understood that I could not do anything about it – it no longer depended on me.”
Speaking in September 2018, when she also appeared to suggest that Olympic champion Alina Zagitova had lost some of her desire, Tarasova said Radionova was enduring a “difficult puberty”.
“Radionova is out of shape,” she told Sport Express.
“Her [weight] doesn’t allow her to work, and she can’t deal with it yet because [of what] she eats.”
Now 21, Radionova last competed when she finished tenth at the 2018 Russian Figure Skating Championships, although her love of the discipline has repeatedly tempted her to launch comebacks.
“I just know how much [Tarasova] loves me – after those words, I did not take offense at all,” she insisted.
“I am by no means angry with her because she did so much good for me. She always helped me throughout my career.
“We can still call and I still keep in touch with her, because as a person she really only helped me throughout my career.”