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Overthrow from the Olympus

1-2 (2010)
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Russians have less than four years to climb it again.

Russian team has ruined the Games in Canada — let's call things by their proper names. Ten millions of Russian fans remained discouraged by the results of White Olympic Games-2010. And the owners, on the contrary, have broken a record of Olympians-76, the USSR team, and have taken 14 gold medals. So, Vancouver knows how to win home Olympic Games. And does Sochi know? Time for preparation of the future champions presses: a little more than 1400 days remained before the opening of XXII winter Games.

From leaders to middlings.

Our country has been recently reputed as supersports power. Sportsmen of the USSR, not long of the CIS and Russia (more under inertia, on the basis and heritage of the Soviet period) contended for the first team place. We competed as equals with teams of the USA, the former GDR, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and often leaved them behind. To take the second place was considered as a failure or, to put it mildly, non-fulfilment of the task. Today other times have come, alas. From the world leader, Olympic elite, sports Russia has turned to middling. Strong though. The proof of such conclusion follows from statistics, and it is a cold thing. In Vancouver the Russian Federation team has won only three gold, five silver and seven bronze medals and has for the first time in history taken the 11th place. Besides Americans, Germans, Norwegians, Russians were left behind by Canadians, Koreans, Chineses, Swisses, Austrians, Swedes, Dutches. Frenchmen, southern Australians, Czechs breath down our neck …

If we do not make serious and urgent conclusions, including the organization, we will not perform better in Sochi-2014. To own the podium. Right after Vancouver had won the right to hold XXI winter Olympic Games, the program «Own the podium» started in Canada. Specific purpose was set in the maple leaf country: to win in the team event in Vancouver-2010 and to enter the top ten in London-2012. Canadians were concentrated on three directions.

Firstly, the preparation of the trainer's staff serving potential medallists. Secondly, the creation of the integrated support team, that is the preparation of the highly tailored scientific personnel. Thirdly, there were created four national institutes of sports. «Own the podium» program budget has made over$100 million! One half of a sum was allocated by the Canadian government, the second half — by sponsors, representing well-known corporations.

Bitter insight.

Truly Russian questions: «What to do» and «Who is guilty?» have concerned domestic sports more than ever. It is absolutely clear, that serious changes have come to the Russian sports. And, maybe, not so much concerning the organization, but structure and methodology.

Olympic Games are not only puck, points, seconds, metres. They are, more likely, the indicator of all state achievements. Management efficiency, quality of managers' work, medicine, struggle with dope problems (remember the disqualification of Albina Ahatova and Ekaterina Yuryeva — our best biathlonists, perhaps), the newest technologies, economic achievements, at last.

But we lag behind, like poor «Oka» lags behind «Mercedes» on a highway. Swisses create boots fastening with the improved aerodynamic characteristics for their jumper, and he puts a gold medal on his breast twice. Canadians work out special alloy, which reduces skates friction on ice. German tobogganers cooperate with BMW, Italian — with «Ferrari».

And our Albert Demchenko assembles his sledge in usual garage — he is lucky with the mechanic, they say, he is unique. «Bronze» skeletonist Alexander Tretyakov was bought from Latvians. He trains in Latvia — there is no special track in our country.

Anti-records and anti-advertising.

The most terrible Olympic Games in the history of the Russian sports will be remembered by antirecords. We haven't yielded the first place in man's figure skating for 22 years, in pair skating — for 46 years! For the first time hockey players were left counted out of the strongest four. We have poorly performed skis, especially woman's, only in end we have showed good results in biathlon. Woman's ski team has lost for the first time since 1988 and have become the eighth, and man's team, on the contrary, couldn't have owned the podium since then.

The former head of Ministry of sports Vitaly Mutko has suggested Russians to take Vancouver results easily and has sounded a set of problems: «Low level of sportsmen in medal kinds of sports, inefficient youth selection and sports disorder in 1990th». What concerns the selection, the ex-minister has hit the «bull's eye» Why, for example, biathlonist Anastasia Kuzmina have brought gold and silver medals to Slovakia, instead of Russia? Who is responsible for the obvious miscalculation of trainer's staff and biathlon federation? Or Irina Rodnina is right: «Federations should select, instead of it the heads place their friends into national teams, then they go for commercial tournaments and get money»?

Hockey castration

If Russians won «gold» in our national pride on ice of owners and ancestors of the Games, Canadians — and all offences, defeats would be forgiven and forgotten by domestic fans, I am assured. For one hockey only. And what do we have? We have got seven slaps in the face, having conceded without struggle and in one gate. Here is the citation of the American colleague known as great admirer of Ovechkin and Russian hockey as a whole: «Defeat of Russia in Canada in Olympic quarterfinal was one of the most unconditional, declarative and resolute castrations in hockey for last decades». It is not difficult to guess what wrote the opponents of the Russian hockey. Vyacheslav Bykov's team did not have enough psychological spirit. And one more thing. As it seemed to me, our professionals, Russian NHL and CHL well-paid stars have got star fever a little. The hockey players, who have got used to magnificent apartments, have been indignant at food in Olympic village, the absence of the Internet in hotel rooms, and at the fact that even TV-sets have been established on the floor. Present sportsmen appreciate awards at first. «We are the children of winners generation. Parents had won war and we were brought up in the same manner, — Irina Rodnina says. — And what for modern youth should die? They prefer to live and work without beautiful words about service to fatherland. Work for fee. If it is possible to earn big money easily, what for to be killed during trainings and competitions?»

«Struggle with anarchy!»

Summer Olympic Games-2008 in Beijing came to an end with triumph of the Chinese sportsmen, who had considerably surpassed their main competitors. Vancouver Games were marked by unprecedented and sensational success of Canadians, the owners of the Games. And what is going to happen to Russians in Sochi less than in four years? To win in the team event, is akin to miracle, frankly speaking. It is a grass, that could be painted one day before the arrival of the high-ranking commission, and the champion couldn't appear in short terms. But at least our Olympians should struggle for a place in a prize-winning top three. In the Chinese National Republic there is a precept of a sportsman. I will quote it: «Train persistently. Play fair. Be tidy and punctual. Avoid some tobacco and alcohol». And the last, perhaps, the most important for the Russian reality: «Struggle with anarchy». Let's also struggle with anarchy. When we win it, we will return to the elite of world sports.

The progress of Canadian team from the Olympic Games in Calgary-1988 to Vancouver-2010.

Year

City

Place in final

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Medal tournament

Year

City

Place in final

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Medal tournament

1988

Calgary

13

0

2

3

5

46

1992

Albertville

9

2

3

2

7

51

1994

Lillehammer

7

3

6

4

13

61

1998

Nagano

4

6

5

4

15

68

2002

Salt-Lake-City

4

7

3

7

17

78

2006

Turin

5

7

10

7

24

84

2010

Vancouver

1

14

7

5

26

86


Author: Konstantin Kukharenko