With one day left of the Olympiad in Beijing, Russia moved into third place in the unofficial standings for the amount of gold medals won. Saturday morning saw Russian sportsmen get two more gold medals. For starters, Maksim Opalev paddled his way to an Olympic gold in the men’s single canoe competition. Then, the Russian women’s team came out on top in the synchronised-swimming final, thus, earning Russia’s 19th gold in the games and overtaking Great Britain by one gold. The British team had been in third place in the medal standings right since day one of the games. If one takes into account the grand total of all medals won, gold, silver, and bronze, Russia occupied third place since the beginning of the week, trailing only China and the United States. The teams of these two countries reaped an extraordinary harvest of medals even on the very first day. For a long while, the Russian team was lying in eighth, sixth, fourth, and now, eventually, in third place.
On Saturday, there were few doubts among fans and spectators that the Russian synchronic swimming girls would take the gold. Indeed, they gave a faultless and impeccable performance. Olga Vasyukova, Olympic synchronicised-swimming champion in Sydney in 2000, said, “The girls were absolutely great. Everything went perfect. There were clear figures, first-class choreography, interesting transitions, faultless synchronisation, and each number was executed at a high speed. This was a real show of Olympic champions”.
With one day to go, the Russian team intends not only to hold on to its third place, but also to add more medals to its treasure chest. Fans are expecting some golds in boxing, track-and-field, and artistic gymnastics. Obviously, the team has the potential to end the Olympiad in Beijing with a bang.
On Saturday, Viktor Khotochin, the First Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee, said that the Beijing Olympics were organised brilliantly. The Russian visitors and athletes had no complaints about transport, accommodation, and food. Nonetheless, there were some peculiar aspects that will no doubt be queried and seriously examined by the international sporting community, at various levels, he added.
Mr Khotochin criticised the hosts and organisers for extending a “most favoured nation” status to the Chinese competitors at the Beijing Olympics. “This was evident, for example in the case of Chinese marksmen who were accommodated right next to the firing ranges. If you wanted to put in a few practice shots at night, no one stopped you from going onto the range and putting in a few. Everybody would have loved to have such a privilege. But, shooting was only one example. I can assure you that the ‘most favoured nation’ status applied to several other lines of sport as well”.
The winner of the Modern Pentathalon, Andrey Moiseyev, noted how his Chinese rival was provided with a good horse for the riding event, which had been “hidden” among the reserve horses, whilst the other competitors had to make do with whatever they got. Mr Khotochin is not alone in raising such questions. His opinions are shared by many others from various national Olympic committees.
23 August 2008
Voice of Russia World Service