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Russia will return to the level we got used to

7-8 (2010)
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 Firstly, it is much easier to compete in the homeland. Secondly, the national team of the Russian Federation will be competitive for certain. Russian biathlonists will certainly take three-four «gold» in Sochi, has declared permanent IBU president Anders Besseberg in his interview to the «Olympic Reporter».

Last autumn the supreme body of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) — the Congress, which took place in St.-Peters-burg, elected Anders Besseberg as a president for the fifth time. Despite big public statements about his retirement, replicated by the sports press on the eve of elections, the Norwegian has compliantly taken this honourable burden. The explanation of extravagant Besseberg was as laconic as categorical: «I do not see other candidate, who could become the head of IBU».

— First of all, let me congratulate you on election for new term. What rae you going to concentrate on in the next four years?

— One of the main tasks will become the inclusion of the mixed relay race in the program of the Sochi Olympic Games. In general, the plan for development of the big biathlon, approved during the Congress in St.-Petersburg, seems to me rather reasonable and realistic. On the one hand, it takes into consideration consequences of financial crisis, on the other hand — the experience of past years.

— Being IBU president, what personal achievements do you consider to be the most important for biathlon development?

— The most significant event in the history of biathlon was the fact of IBU foundation in July, 1993, to my mind. The second main achievement I consider the introduction of system of long-term planning in sports management. At last, for those 18 years, during which I have been heading the Union, we managed to introduce new competitive disciplines into the program of the World championships.

— How do you estimate today sports and administrative qualification of RBU management and how could you characterize Alexander Tikhonov, who left a post of IBU vice-president this year?

— I am impressed by present management of the Russian Biathlon Union and its orientation. It is not a secret, that RBU is the important part of IBU, and, that the strongest biathlonists of the world perform for Russia at the international sports forums. As for the former IBU vice-president Tikhonov, his function was to develop summer biathlon as a separate sport. And it should be said in all fairness, that he worked very actively in this sphere and made impressing results.

— It is known, that you are not particularly enthusiastic about this. Alexander Tikhonov read in his numerous interviews time and again the pessimistic forecast, that IBU «will bury summer biathlon». Whether there is a basis at so categorical statement?

— Life answers your question. Despite the fact, that the summer biathlon World championships are spent since 1996 and annually 20-25 countries take part in them, biathlonists never seriously concentrate on them. Summer starts are only training before crucial winter tests for them. Therefore, summer biathlon will never become the Olympic sport.

— How do you estimate coming of the well-known businessman, one of the richest people of the world Mikhail Prokhorov to the post of the RB U head? Who, from your point of view, is capable to be at the head of national sports federation more effectively — the former sportsman knowing business from within, or the top-manager with money and connections?

— It is difficult for me to judge, which volume of work is carried out by Prokhorov in RBU, but during our meeting I was convinced of its excellent awareness and competence in all, that concerns biathlon. He has created a strong national team, profi are around him, and it is the main thing. I can tell exactly, that the board structure should include experts in all areas — both in sports sphere, and in management.

— The choice of Finnish Kontio-lahti as place for carryimg out of the World championship-2015 became one of the main surprises of the Congress in St.-Petersburg. Thus, in 2016 the Norwegian city of Holmenkollen will fight for the right to be the host of the World championship with Kamchatka …

— You have surprised me with this news: I haven't heard, that Kamchatka plans to come forward as a candidate for carrying out biathlon World championship. However, according to the objective data the biathlon infrastructure is at high level in this region. Sportsmen, who took part in Vitaly Fatyanov International competitions in 2009 in Kamchatka, admit, that they haven't seen such wide and difficult track yet. The Kamchatka snow is «fast», and meets international standards.

— XXII winter Olympic Games will take place in Soch in 2014. What do you think about the fact, that White Games were given to Russia?

— It seems to me, that your country can hold the Olympic Games at the highest level. As far as I know, building of the biathlon track goes in Sochi at full swing. I am sure, that it will be made according to the highest standard.

— What do you expect from biathlon at the Olympic Games-2014? What national team will set the fashion on the forthcoming winter Games?

— I wish, that in Sochi sportsmen set up world records and pleased fans with good results. Now there are a lot of strong teams in world biathlon. I am convinced, that regardless of national teams, Sweden Norway, Germany, France and Slovakia will fight for medals. I expect, that after the home Olympic Games Russia will return to the level we have got used to. I have no doubt, that your team will appear among favourites at the Sochi Games. Your biathlonists will exactly take three-four «gold».

Anders Besseberg

Was born on February, 25th, 1946. Graduated from the Oslo Sports University. The biathlon champion of Norway. Since 1976 for 1980 — the coach of the Norwegian national team, the Member of technical committee of the International Union of Pentathlon and Biathlon (UIPMB). In 1980-1988 participated in foundation of IBU as the independent organization. Since July, 2nd, 1993 — its permanent president. He was elected on this post for five times.


Author: Irina Rodina, Lyudmila Bobrova