A Russian Olympic gymnast is lucky to be alive after failing to realize her apartment was on fire because she has lost her sense of smell due to COVID-19, according to a report.
Rhythmic gymnast Daria Shkurikhina, 30, who won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, said she had been “very stupid” to light a candle and leave it unattended, East2West News reported.
The athlete said she failed to smell the smoke after her cat apparently knocked over the candle and flames swept through her apartment in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
“Soon after lighting the candle, I saw smoke creeping across the ceiling, already in the kitchen,” she said, according to the outlet. “I still cannot smell after suffering from COVID-19.”
Fortunately, a neighbor called the fire department and she was able to escape the raging inferno, which destroyed her apartment and could also have ravaged her neighborhood.
“Acrid smoke” prevented Shkurikhina from reaching her cat, but a firefighter who arrived minutes later saved the animal and her chinchilla, Guch, which suffered a burned tail, East2West reported.
“I understand that I have put people in danger. Yes, I understand that I am to blame,” she said. “An unpleasant situation happened in my life, but everyone is alive, and this is the main thing. I am still in a state of shock.”
Shkurikhina, who is asking for help in finding a new home, said she has been attacked by nasty trolls for leaving the unattended lighted candle.
“I lit a candle and went to the kitchen. I now understand that leaving an open fire unattended is very stupid, but nothing can be changed,” she said, adding that “it can happen to anyone.”
Shkurikhina said she lit the candle to mark the Russian Orthodox Christmas and urged her followers to “learn from other people’s mistakes.”
“I have not cried that much in a very long time,” she said, adding that her salvaged gold medal was not damaged in the blaze.
Her gutted apartment was presented to her by former Nizhny Novgorod Oblast governor Valery Shantsev, 73, for her performances at the Olympics, according to thesun.ie.
Shkurikhina also won five golds at the European Championships, three in Moscow in 2006 and two in Torino, Italy, in 2008.
In 2007, she won three gold medals at the World Championships held in Patras, Greece.