Russian Olympian Aleksandra Maksakova Declares for Palestine

Thu, 12/08/2022 - 15:24
Aleksandra Maksakova and Bojengels at the 2020 CDI Grote Brogel :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Russian Olympic Grand Prix team rider Aleksandra Maksakova has declared for Palestine. 

The 25-year old Dutch based Aleksandra Dmitriyevna Maksakova has been competing internationally for her native country Russia since 2017. She is originally from Chelyabinsk near the Kazachstan border.

Junior/Young Rider Success

Aleksandra began competing in Russia 2009 at the age of 12 in the children division

In 2013 she went to the Netherlands to train with Anky van Grunsven. Aboard the Oldenburg Scampalo (by Sandro Hit x Florestan) she was 8th at the 2014 European Junior Riders Championships, fifth at the 2015 European Junior Riders Championships, 9th at the 2016 European Young Riders Championships. 

In 2016, she moved to Belgium to train with Wim Verwimp. At the 2016 European Young Riders Championships she was 9th in the Kur to Music.

In 2017 she decided to go back to Russia and moved to the Rusakov family yard, Forside equestrian, in St Petersburg. That year she added the Rusakov's Hanoverian Freixenet (by Florestan x Bolero) to her competition string but it was Scampalo which she took to the 2017 European Young Riders Championships, where she finished 11th in the Kur.

In August 2017 she was unable to ride for three months after falling from her horse and sustaining brain trauma. In the spring of 2018 the Rusakov family took her to Spain where she competed in Segovia and at the 2018 European Young Riders Championships she finished 7th

To the Olympics with Bojengels

At the 2014 European Junior Championships
Back in 2014 the Maksakova family purchased the KWPN gelding Bojengels (by Samba Hit II x Aktion) and Aleksandra briefly competed him for one season at international junior level in 2015.

The liver chestnut resurfaced in 2019 when "Sasha" made the transition to Under 25 Grand Prix level with the CDI Roosendaal in May 2019 being her first CDI at that level. That same month the 22-year old Maksakova got engaged to Russian show jumping rider Egor Shchibrik (18) at the CSI Darguziai in Lithuania. Egor is the son of  Maksim Shchibrik, the Vice-President for Finance of the Russian Copper Company (RMC).

The couple got married and the Shchibrik family bought a stable in Rucphen, The Netherlands, where they have been based ever since. Aleksandra had started training with German Johannes Rueben, who is still her coach to date. 

She competed Bojengels at the 2020 European Under 25 Championships in Pilisjaszfalu and finished 17th in the Kur. In the autumn of 2020 she made the transition to the senior division to put herself in the running for Russian team selection for the Olympics. Her efforts paid off and she rode down the centreline in Tokyo for the ROC team (Russia was not allowed to fly its flag because of the WADA ban). She finished 53rd in the Grand Prix with 63.898%. At the 2021 European Championships in Hagen six weeks later she was 61st with 65.202% in the Grand Prix.

Russian Ban, Palestinian Solution

On 2 March 2022 the FEI Board took an Emergency Board Resolution to prohibit the participation of all Russian and Belarusian Athletes, Horses and Officials in international events because of the war in Ukraine.

Egor and Aleksandra in 2020
Five days later the FEI passport of Maksakova's horse Bojengels changed, listing him as owned by the Lithuanian company UAB Sportiniu zirgu investicija. However,  Russian born Aleksandra still could not show. Aleksandra did not get ring rusty as she has been competing nationally in The Netherlands this year as the KWPN allows Russians with a Dutch riders' licence to compete.

The Shchibrik family first looked for a solution in Lithuania, but ended up finding one in Palestine.

"Due to current political situation and the decision by international sport federations – including the FEI – to ban Russian athletes from international competitions, I was no longer allowed to take part in international dressage events due to my Russian nationality, even though I am a permanent resident in Lithuania," Aleksandra told Eurodressage. "Under those difficult circumstances, I had the great chance and honour to be authorised to compete for Palestine, thanks to the support of Palestinian sporting bodies, and in compliance with the FEI regulations."

Both Egor and Aleksandra have now been declared for Palestine and are eligible again to compete at international horse shows, putting them back in the running for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

"I am looking forward to resuming international dressage competitions under the Palestinian flag," Aleksandra added. 

Maksokova is the third Grand Prix rider to have declared for Palestine. The other two are Russian born Diana al Shaer (since 2018) and the German born Christian Brühe/Zimmermann (since 2011). 

Photos © Astrid Appels

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