September 11: Russian athlete and world champion in bench press Maryana Naumova arrived in the Syrian capital as part of a women’s delegation, which was invited by First Lady Asma al-Assad. The 16-year-old weightlifter is going to meet with children, local athletes, and women from the Syrian special forces, as well as the president of the country, to which the Russian has brought a gift.
But first, Mariana decided to walk in Damascus and see what life is like in the besieged city.
“The situation in the city is normal, people go to work, learn, walk. But there are a lot of military, in uniform and with guns, and a lot of roadblocks,” she said.
In addition to the abundance of soldiers, said Maryana, the number of posters with Bashar al-Assad which hung on the city walls caught her eye. In the tourist part of town, some shops operate without electricity — militants bombed the local power station.
The athlete compared Damascus to the destruction in Donetsk, which she visited in autumn 2014 on a humanitarian mission. After this trip, the 16-year-old weightlifter was denied a U.S. visa. And before Donbass, Maryana visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the summer of 2014.
Maryana Naumova has set more than 15 world records in the bench press among teenage women. She is a four-time world champion and the first woman under 18 years admitted to professional competitions in powerlifting.
Translated by Greg Butterfield