(Always the showman,
Svetlana smiles as she
performs a triple axle)
Svetlana Putrushka, 1.9 years old, of the Ukraine skated a beautiful free skate but still fell short of a medal on Thursday. "Air" Svetlana, as she is known in the Ukraine, has been skating since the tender age of 1.1 years old; that is when the Ukraine's lone figure skater was injured and Svetlana was the only obvious choice to replace her.
Taken from her parents, the next eight months consisted on intense training to burn off all the babyfat, teach her to skate, and make her an Olympic darling.
"When I first receive Svetlana....she was soft...tender, almost like baby. I was saying that I can no work with this. But once I saw her in her cute little outfit and skates, I just knew a star was born," said Nikoli Tolstoy, Svetlana's coach and trainer.
So began the journey of this tiny prodigy. It was hard to work in training sessions between her 3 daily naps and 10 hours of sleep a night. But when her cute little eyes were open, they were focused on gold.
"When she first fell, I say, 'Get Up!' You know? 'Get up, stop crying like little infant, you are an Olympian, act like one!' I was harsh on her, but it was because I care. I knew she was not trying hard enough, it was almost like she did not want to be there. It wasn't until she first hit a double axle that she started to taking to it. The joy she felt, she kept wanting to feel. You know, then it was no more diaper changing every hour, no more 'WAH! Baba!' you know, asking for bottle. None. All she want now was skate.," added Tolstoy.
Then came Turino. And shine Svetlana did. She hit all of her jumps and ran a flawless routine. But the degree of difficulty hurt her and she had to settle for 24th place.
"We are excited about future. She is still young you know. She still maybe have six..seven Olympics left in her. We just practice harder and come back in 2010 for gold," said Tolstoy.