SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Fuelled by anger at being snubbed for the team competition, Adelina Sotnikova grabbed Olympic gold to show a Julia Lipnitskaya-obsessed Russia that there was more than one teenaged superstar in the country.
Sotnikova was a television spectator as she watched 15-year-old Lipnitskaya melt hearts across the nation with two breathtaking performances that helped Russia win the inaugural team title almost two weeks ago.
Annoyingly for Sotnikova, she could have stood alongside Lipnitskaya, Yevgeny Plushenko and her other team mates on top of the podium if Russia had chosen to use their two substitutions in such a way that both teenagers had taken part.
Instead, she made a promise to herself.
“I got really angry and I decided that I will get a medal in the individual event,” the 17-year-old, who became the first Russian to win the women’s Olympic title, told reporters.
“I really wanted to take part because I knew that we would win a medal because our team was so strong and when I found out that I was not in the team I felt offended.
“When I received the final no, I felt like something was stuck in my throat. But then I swallowed the disappointment and I was determined to show everyone what I could do in the individual event. It added to my determination as I wanted to get this gold.”
Her coach Elena Buyanova said the setback turned into a blessing because by the time the women’s competition started, Sotnikova was hungry for success.
“We did not know till the last moment whether Adelina would take part or not (in the team competition),” Buyanova said.
“There were different versions to the very end, Adelina is going, Adelina is not going, Adelina is again going and at the last moment we were not going.
“It was unexpected that we were not chosen. But as a result we were able to focus on the individual event.”
That fire burning inside her allowed Sotnikova to land her first major title in front of a frenzied and euphoric crowd chanting her name.
She blocked out the deafening roars to glide through a programme that included 11 jumps, including seven triples.
Her only glitch was a two-footed landing at the end of her triple flip-double toeloop-double loop combination but it seemed the 12,000 fans had turned a blind eye to the wobble and rose to their feet in stamp their approval.
When her score of 149.95 flashed up for the free skate, Sotnikova’s jaw dropped in astonishment but she knew that 2010 champion Kim Yuna was lurking in the wings to deny her a historic victory.
But at 10.53pm local time on Thursday, the promise she had showed when she won the national title as a 12-year-old in 2008, finally came to fruition as her total of 224.59 carried her to the top of the three-step platform.
After bagging the ultimate prize in the sport, she declared: “Yes I am the Olympic champion but this is not the end. I want to go further.
“I want to win the world championship several times and also the European championship gold as I only have a silver.
“In fact I want all the golds that is out there,” she added before dissolving into laughter.
Editing by Ed Osmond