Upon arrival in her native Kyrgyzstan for the first time in eight years, Valentina Shevchenko was given a hero’s welcome by fans, fighters, and politicians alike.
Flanked by her coach Pavel Fedotov and her mother, Shevchenko arrived at the Manas airport on April 7, where she was greeted by swarms of journalists, hundreds of fans, and Deputy Prime Minister Altynai Omurbekova. The UFC flyweight champion was presented with a bouquet of flowers, treated to flat cake, and escorted to a private motorcade that took her to the city.
On April 8, Shevchenko met with the President of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, as well as parliament speaker Dastanbek Jumabekov. The Head of State congratulated Shevchenko on her victory and expressed his gratitude to coach Pavel Fedotov for helping her achieve such success. The President later invited Shevchenko to train annually in Kyrgyzstan and awarded her with the Dank Order for outstanding sporting achievements in the UFC.
“The whole country, hundreds of thousands of our citizens, are tirelessly watching your sporting successes and fervently support you. Medals that you have won in a fair and stubborn fight have a special value for our entire multinational country. Behind this stands many years of work. You coped with the task, defended the honor of our Kyrgyzstan. We are sure that in the future you will achieve even greater results and show the world brilliant achievements in sports!” stressed Sooronbay Jeenbekov.
Shevchenko, 30, also took part in a press conference and fan Q&A session in Bishkek on April 8. During the conference, Shevchenko spoke about her native Kyrgyzstan, her decision to train in Peru, and her sister and fellow fighter Antonina. Shevchenko revealed that she plans to come back to Kyrgyzstan during the summer and is proud to have been born in the Central Asian country.
“I will continue performing on behalf of Peru and Kyrgyzstan. And Russia, I lived there for several years. Kyrgyzstan is my homeland, and I lived in Russia for several years. These countries are part of me.”
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