Olivia Kroth: Olympic Gold for Russia at Rio 2016 Summer Games

Olympic Gold for Russia at Rio 2016 Summer Games

by Olivia Kroth

280 Russian athletes went to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, 120 less than initially planned, due to a western smear campaign aimed at the Russian Federation and its athletes.Thankfully, IOC President Thomas Bach had not played into western hands by banning the Russian team entirely because of the doping smear campaign, but delegated the decisions to the international sports federations of each Olympic discipline. Upon arrival, Russia’s national team was greeted by Russia’s consulate general in Rio and compatriots in Brazil at the Galeao International Airport. The Russian diaspora had arrived in great numbers, celebrating the occasion enthusiastically with Russian flags and Russian songs. All in all, after so much excitement prior to the games, the Russian Olympic team proved to be very successful in Rio, winning 56 medals: 19 gold, 18 silver and 19 bronze. Even without alleged doping, the Russians are excellent athletes, as Rio 2016 once more proved. 

On the 27th of July, President Vladimir Putin met with the Russian Olympic team at the Grand Kremlin Palace’s Alexander Hall. In his speech, he wished  everybody good luck and success,  “All of you here trained long and hard over the last four years to get ready for this big event, and you all deserved the right to defend Russia’s sporting honour. Sadly, not all of you will have the chance to make your dreams come true in Rio. We see that short-sighted politicians have started meddling in sport too, though sport was supposed to bring peoples together and smooth over the differences between countries. This current situation has gone beyond the legal pale now and has even gone beyond the bounds of common sense. This campaign that targets our country’s athletes includes the use of notorious double standards and the principle of collective responsibility, which is not compatible with sport and not compatible with justice or basic legal norms in general.”

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/52588

Thomas Bach and Vladimir Putin:

On the 4th of August, the Russian flag was hoisted in the Olympic Village Rio de Janeiro, the home to athletes competing at the Summer Olympic Games. The ceremony was attended by the President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian delegation Igor Kazikov, as well as athletes and coaches of the Russian team in the village. “We are in great mood,” Alexander Zhukov saidVideos on youtube showed Russian athletes wandering along the beach of Copacabana and diving in the waves. Inhabitants of this lively Rio quarter said they were happy to see Russian sportspeople at the Copacabana, knowing that they are some of the strongest athletes worldwide. Russia and Brazil have close ties, last but not least, due to their membership in BRICS. Both nations pursue common goals in the spheres of politics, economics, culture and sports. According to Vladimir Tokmarov, the Russian Consul General in Rio de Janeiro, about 12.000 Russian fans traveled to Brazil to attend the Olympic Summer Games 2016. This was a great chance for them to applaud their fellow countrymen at the sports venues, but also to get to know Rio de Janeiro and travel in Brazil (TASS, 04.08.2016).

President of Russia’s Olympic Committee (ROC) Alexander Zhukov:

The first sportsman to win Olympic gold for Russia was Beslan Mudranov (Беслан Заудинович Мудранов). On the 6th of August 2016, he became the winner of gold at judo. Russia’s Beslan Mudranov defeated Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov in the final of the men’s 60kg division. The International Judo Federation President Marius Vizer congratulated the Olympic champion for his feat. “I want to congratulate the Russian athlete for a great competition day. He is an Olympic champion. Congratulations to Beslan and good luck for the future.” Beslan Mudranov told journalists he was not anxious prior to the Olympic final in Rio. “I am very pleased that I have won the first gold medal. I am sure that this gold medal is not the last. I was calm and determined. If you are nervous, nothing will come of it. The state of mind is the most important thing,” the Russian judoka said. He also noted that his rival in the final had used a new tactics against him. “I used to fight against him before but today he started in an unusual style. I could not understand what to do and I had to readjust myself,” Beslan Mudranov said (TASS, 07.08.2016).

The victory of Russian judoka Beslan Mudranov in the under 60 kg weight category, the first for the Russian national squad, will not be the last, Khasanbi Taov, the head coach of the Russian wrestling team, told TASS. “We remember very well how Russian President Vladimir Putin once told a news conference that the Karbadians are even better than the Japanese. President Putin loves judo and cheers for it. I think that the president will be pleased with Beslan’s victory. I am sure that our wrestlers will continue performing well. The team is very well trained,” Taov said. The Russian judoka Beslan Mudranov was born in Baksan, Kabardino-Balkaria, on the 7th of July 1986. Previous to the Olympic gold medal, he had already won two gold medals in the European Judo Championships of 2012 and 2014. He started fighting, when he was 13, first as a freestyle wrestler, later at sambo, a Russian form of martial arts, before switching to judo. Beslan Mudranov is married and has a daughter.

Russia’s Republic Kabardino-Balkaria in the Northern Caucasus:

The champion’s wife Diana Mudranova reported how his home town Baksan celebrated the victory: “Here in the homeland, we all gathered, his relatives, friends and even former classmates. Once his name in Rio had been announced as the first Olympic champion, the sky lit up over Baksan with the bright lights of fireworks. We were all dancing, singing, shouting and crying. Even the kids were awake and watched how Beslan won! You cannot imagine how happy we are! We are so proud of our Beslan! There are no words, only emotions! We tried to reach him by phone, but he has not answered yet. We are waiting for the moment when we will hear his voice. His four-year-old daughter Samira had written a touching poem for Dad, hoping it would inspire him to win. As a result, the power of the spirit, the will to win, the years of training and warm words of love from home have done their job: Beslan Mudranov brought his country the first gold!” (KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA KUBAN, 07.08.2016). Finally, a video of Samira was shown on twitter, “My Dad is a champion, he is the strongest man in the world, one in a million, he is unique.” The little dark-haired beauty was heard saying, “Мой папа чемпион, он самый в мире сильный, oдин на миллион, tакой неповторимый.”

http://m.kuban.kp.ru/daily/26564/3580971/

Beslan Mudranov, Olympic gold medal judo:

On the 8th of August 2016, Russia’s sabre fencer Yana Egorian won the second gold medal, defeating her Russian compatriot Sophia Velikaya in the final round (15:14). After her victory she said, “I do not know how I had the strength and nerves. I am so happy about this victory. Pity, there are no two gold medals for both of us, but these are the rules” (MATCH TV, 09.08.2016). “Russia’s Yana Egorian has won the women’s individual sabre competition, coming from behind to take home the gold. It wasn’t an easy quest for Yana Egorian who had to go through her own teammate and the number one fencer in the world, Sophia Velikaya. The rookie and the veteran. It was a hard fought battle with both fencers consistently trading points. Undeterred, Yana Egorian scored five consecutive points to put herself in a position to win. Down a point, she tied the match at 14 and registered the final touch to secure the top spot. Yana Egorian had worked her way up the ranks in the past few years, cementing herself in the top ten in sabre. She had been dubbed Russia’s most talented fencer” (NBC, 08.08.2016). After her victory, she was asked by journalists how she liked Brazil. She told them: “I like it very much. We live outside of the Olympic Village in a nice and solitary place,  a hundred kilometres from Rio. We have excellent facilities: a chef who cooks for us, a fitness room.  I was in the village, but after a few hours I got tired, with all the people and the noise there” (SPORT EXPRESS.RU, 09.08.2016). 

Yana Egorian, Olympic gold medal sabre fencing:

Yana Karapetovna Egorian (Яна Карапетовна Егорян) was born in Yerevan, Armenia, on the 20th of December 1993. She has been living and training in Khimki, Moscow Oblast, since 1999. Her mother lives in Khimki, her father in Yerevan. Yana Egorian is a two times Silver Medallist of the European Cadet Championships (2009 and 2010). She finished fifth at the 2010 Cadet World Championships in Baku, Azerbeijan. The 22-year-old sabre fencer is not married yet. She calls herself a crazy cat lady in an interview: “My mother is sitting at home, caring for our kittens. The cat recently gave birth to four kittens: two female and two male kittens. Please write in your article that I want to distribute them. Yes, kittens from the Olympic champion! I’ll give them into good hands for free” (LENTA.RU, 09.08.2016). In her spare time, Yana Egorian loves to travel. She takes summer vacations at the sea and in winter she goes to the mountains for skiing.  Playing street basketball with friends is another hobby. Later she wants to work as head coach for Russia’s national fencing team (CHAMPIONAT.COM, 09.08.2016).

Yana Egorian, Olympic gold medal sabre fencing:

The third gold medal for Russia followed on the 9th of August 2016, when the Russian judoka Khasan Khalmurzaev won Olympic gold in the men’s category up to 81 kg. “Russia climbed to the top of the judo medal table as Khasan Khalmurzaev earned his country’s second judo gold of the Rio Games in emphatic fashion, thrilling the crowd at the Carioca Arena. Ending his campaign with a bang, the European champion won his final two matches by ippon, judo’s equivalent of a knockout” (INDIAN EXPRESS, 10.08.2016).

Khasan Magometovich Khalmurzaev (Хасан Магометович Халмурзаев) was born in Nazran, Ingushetia, on the 9th of October 1993. The Russian judoka won the Summer Youth Olympic Games 2010 in Singapore and became champion of the Summer Universiade 2015 in Gwangju, South Korea.

Central mosque in Nazran, Ingushetia:

Khasan Khalmurzaev said being born in the Caucasus mountains had helped him win Olympic judo gold in Rio. The 22-year-old Khasan, whose twin brother Khusen is also a judo fighter, was born in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia. According to him, it is a region that breeds powerful sons, “It’s true, many people born there are physically strong and well prepared. Not just people in sports but also those on the streets — maybe it helps being born in the mountains. Wrestling is popular there.” It was his father who first introduced the twin brothers to judo. “We always train together. We were in the same category, but now Khusen is in a higher category, up to 90 kg. He’s number two in the Russian national team”, Khasan Khalmurzaev explained (YAHOO SPORTS, 10.08.2016).

Russian media revealed more details about the twins. As boys at school Khasan and Khusen were “constantly fighting with each other  and the parents were tortured to find out who is right. Therefore, they decided to send both to the place where their energy would find the right application. Fortunately, in their hometown Nazran they found such a possibility in the judo club. It is wellknown that twins have a special bond, many of them are in the world of sports. They feel attracted to each other and share energy from an invisible source. Years have passed, and now the two brothers are the pride of Ingushetia, with success in international competitions” (SPORT EXPRESS.RU, 10.09.2016).

Khasan Khalmurzaev, Olympic gold medal judo:

 On the 10th of August 2016, Russia’s fencer Inna Deriglazova won individual foil gold. This was the 4th gold medal for the Russian Federation. This fencer “ripped off her mask in triumph, the first Russian to win the event since Elena Novikova-Belova did so in 1968 for the Soviet Union” (NBC, 10.08.2012). It is clearly noticable that Russian fencing is going through a period of renaissance, as Russian fencing ladies are winning one gold medal after the other at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

In an interview Inna Deriglazova told the press, “I’m so happy that it is difficult to convey in words. I could have been more confident to win the final, but I was very nervous towards the end, this is my disease. In the decisive battle, I often cannot bring the case to a good ending. After losing the first round, my coach told me to relax and carry out my tactical mission.” Her trainer Ildar Mavlyutov said, “We believed in Inna. Youth defeated experience. She defeated an older opponent. The ending was very exciting for the fans but very disturbing for the coaches. I had a very strong headache, it must have killed a lot of my nerve cells. This is an absolute success and Inna is not going to stop. I am sure that a lot of big tournaments are waiting for her. She’s a workaholic and always keeps herself in great shape” (IZVESTIA, 11.08.2016).

Inna Deriglazova, Olympic gold medal foil fencing:

Inna Vasilyevna Deriglazova (Инна Васильевна Дериглазова) was born in Kurchatov, Kursk Oblast, on the 10th of March 1990.  She began fencing at the age of 8 in her hometown Kurchatov. When her potential became apparent, she got used to fence with athletes who were much older than her. The Russian foil fencer became team World champion in 2011, won Olympic team silver in 2012 and gold at the World Cup 2015 in Moscow. In 2012, she was awarded the Order “For Services to the Motherland” for her great contribution to the development of physical culture and sports in Russia. Inna Deriglazova has a degree in jurisprudence from the Kazan State Technical University. She is married and has a daughter.

“Diana is waiting for my return home. My daughter is now seven years old. in September, she will go to school and on to fencing. This victory at the Olympic Games, the gold medal, I dedicate it to her. When I started fencing, my parents tried to dissuade me, saying that it is a male sport. But now their opinion has changed. I am proud of my parents and very grateful to them. When Diana looks at me, she also wants to engage in fencing. I have a great desire to see my daughter become a successful foil fencer as soon as possible!” (SPORT.RU, 11.08.2016).

Inna Deriglazova, Olympic gold medal foil fencing:

The 5th Olympic gold medal in Rio was won by the Russian men’s foil fencing team, on the 12th of August 2016. “The Russian foil fencing team has scored a stunning victory in the final of the team tournament at the 2016 Olympics, its head coach, Ilgar Mamedov told the media. In the final, Russia’s Timur Safin, Aleksei Cheremisinov and Artur Akhmatkhuzin won the gold. It was the Russian foil fencers’ first team victory since the Olympics in 1996. Ilgar Mamedov himself was one of those who won gold in this team for Russia, 20 years ago” (TASS, 13.08.2016).

Aleksey Borisovich Cheremisinov (Алексей Борисович Черемисинов) was born in Moscow, on the 9th of July 1985. The Russian foil fencer became European champion in 2012 and World champion in 2014. Now he won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with the Russian men’s foil fencing team. Artur Kamilevich Akhmatkhuzin (Артур Камилевич Ахматхузин) was born in the Krasnokamsky District of Bashkortostan, on the 28th of May 1988. The Russian foil fencer became silver medallist in the 2013 World Fencing Championships and gold medallist with the Russian foil fencing team in the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Timur Marselevich Safin (Тимур Марселевич Сафин) was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on the 4th of August 1992. He currently resides in Ufa, Bashkortostan. This young Russian foil fencer was bronze medallist in the 2014 World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, where he also won the foil fencing team gold medal.

 

The 6th gold medal came to Russia with the victory of Russian sabre fencers Sophia Velikaya, Yana Egorian, Yulia Gavrilova and Yekaterina Dyachenko in the team event at the Rio Olympic Games, on the 13th of August 2016. Yana Egorian earlier won gold in the individual sabre event, while Sophia Velikaya earned silver for the second time in her career. Russia’s women’s team had already been 2015 world champions in the team event.

Sophia Aleksandrovna Velikaya (Софья Александровна Великая) was born in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, on the 8th of June 1985. The Russian sabre fencer, Olympic champion in the 2016 Olympics team competition, had already received silver medals in the Olympic Games of 2012 and 2016 in the individual. She is also a seven-times World champion and nine-times European champion. Sophia Velikaya is married to the 2004 Olympic champion wrestler Akeksey Mishin. They have two children together. Yekaterina Vladimirovna Dyachenko (Екатерина Владимировна Дьяченко) was born in Saint Petersburg, on the 31st of August 1987. The sabre fencer represented Russia at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Yulia Petrovna Gavrilova (Юлия Петровна Гаврилова) was born in Novosibirsk, on the 20th of July 1989. This Russian sabre fencer won two medals (gold and bronze) as a member of the Russian team at the 2011 World Fencing Championships.

The 7th gold medal for Russia was won by two female tennis players. Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina received gold in the women’s double at the Rio 2016 Olympics, on the 14th of August 2016. The Russian pair cruised to victory in two sets, which they took with the same score of 6-4. The captain of the Russian women’s tennis team and former world No.2, Anastasia Myskina, said that the success of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina came as no surprise to her, “We’re very happy. The girls did what we were trying to achieve for a long time. Frankly speaking, we were expecting gold in the doubles” (RUSSIA TODAY, 14.08.2016).

Elena Sergeyevna Vesnina (Елена Сергеевна Веснина) was born in Lvov, on the 1st of  August 1986. The Russian professional tennis player is a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles competition. Her career-high rankings are World No. 21 in singles and World No. 3 in doubles. She married businessman Pavel Tabuntsov, in November 2015. Ekaterina Valeryevna Makarova (Екатерина Валерьевна Макаpова) was born in Moscow, on the 7th of June 1988. The professional Russian professional tennis player achieved her career-high ranking of number 8, in April 2015. She is a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles competition.

Olympic gold medal for Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova in tennis doubles:

On the same day, August 14, the Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina (Алия Фаргатовна Мустафина) won Russia’s 8th gold medal in women’s uneven bars at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by scoring 15.900 points. She was born in Yegoryevsk, on the 30th of September 1994, in a Russian-Tatar family. Her younger sister Nailya is also a gymnast and former member of Russia’s junior national team. Aliya Mustafina’s trademarks in gymnastics are her elegance, all-around abilities and focused demeanor. She is known for her strong non-acro elements on the floor, which notably increase her difficulty. Her best event however is the uneven bars, where she displays a high level of difficulty and originality.

“Aliya Mustafina has been a stalwart for the Russian women’s gymnastics programme since her first all-around and team victories at the 2010 World Championships. From a teenager with four Olympic medals in 2012 to a team captain with bronze, silver and gold in Rio 2016, Aliya Mustafina has earned a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors in the sport of gymnastics. Born about 70 miles southeast of Moscow, Aliya Mustafina began gymnastics around six years old. She has athletic genes: her father Farhat is a Greco-Roman wrestler who won bronze at the 1976 Olympics. Between 2012 and 2016, Aliya Mustafina won eight European championships medals and six world championship medals” (NBC, 14.08.2016).

Aliya Mustafina, Olympic gold medal gymnastics:

On that same lucky day, August 14, Russia’s Roman Vlasov won the 9th Olympic gold medal for Russia in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 75 kg division. The reigning world and Olympic champion scored Russia’s first wrestling medal.  At the 2012 Olympic Games, Roman Vlasov had earned gold in the comparable 74kg division. He also won a world title in 2015 and entered Rio ranked as the world No. 1 in the 75kg weight class. Overall Russia had been the strongest country in wrestling at the Olympic Games four years ago and was expected to lead the medal count again this year. “Despite of the situation, the unfair decision for our athletes from the side of WADA, it’s very important to get the biggest quantity of medals that we can,” Roman Vlasov said, according to the Associated Press.

Roman Andreyevich Vlasov (Роман Андреевич Власов) was born in Novosibirsk, on 6th of October 1990.  The Russian Greco-Roman wrestler is a very successful double Olympic Champion, winning gold in 2012 and 2016. He is furthermore a double World Champion, winning in 2011 and 2015. He is also a double European Champion, winning in 2012 and 2013. That same year, he won the gold medal at the 2013 Summer Universiade. It is noteworthy that Roman Vlasov has achieved double successes in the major events he competed in, just like a tailor might stitch a double seem to make sure it will hold.

Roman Vlasov, Olympic gold medal Greco-Roman wrestling:

The 15th of August 2016 was another lucky day, bringing two gold medals for Russia. First, Russian Greco-Roman wrestler Davit Chakvetadze brought his country’s Olympic squad its 10th gold medal at the Rio Games. Next, Russian bower Evgeny Tishchenko won the 11th gold medal for Russia in the 91 kg Olympic event in Rio.

Russia earned gold in Greco-Roman wrestling for the second day in a row, with Davit Chakvetadze topping in the final round of the 85 kg tournament. Davit Chakvetadze entered the day ranked third in the world. Two weight classes were contested each day during the Greco-Roman phase of Olympic wrestling, Russia won gold medals in half of the divisions. The nation led the medal count in wrestling by far at the 2012 Olympic Games and had another strong showing in Rio” (NBC, 15.08.2016). Davit Gochaevich Chakvetadze (Давит Гочаевич Чакветадзе) was born in Kutaisi, Georgia, on the 18th of October 1992. The Georgian-Russian Greco-Roman wrestler won a gold medal at the 2015 Russian National Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships and was gold medalist in the Greco-Roman 85 kg event at the 2015 European Games. Davit Chakvetadze also won the European Nations’ Cup (Moscow Lights) in 2015.

Davit Chakvetadze, Olympic gold medal Greco-Roman wrestling:

The Russian boxer Evgeny Tishchenko won the gold medal in the 91 kg Olympic event in Rio by unanimous decision of the judges, receiving 29-28 on all three scorecards. It was the 11th gold medal for Russia. Evgeny Andreyevich Tishchenko (Евгений Андреевич Тищенко) was born in Krasnodar Krai, on the 15th of July 1991. The Russian amateur in the heavyweight category is a two-time Russian national champion. The athlete started boxing early in his life and built up an impressive career.

Evgeny Tishchenko actively began boxing while studying in the 5th grade. He became a member of the Russian National Team in 2009, achieving national and international results. He won the light heavyweight weight category in the Youth Championship of Russia, took the first prize at an international tournament in Croatioa, then won the Youth European Championships. He began competing seniors in 2010 and twice received bronze medals at the Russian National Championships. In addition, he took gold in the Youth European Championships U23 in Kaliningrad. In 2012, Tishchenko became the Russian National champion in the heavyweight category. In 2013, he won the gold medal at the 2013 Summer Universiade. Evgeny Tishchenko competed at the 2015 European Championships and got gold in the heavyweight category. In October 2015, he repeated his success, winning gold at the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Evgeny Tishchenko, Olympic gold medal boxing:

On the 16th of August 2016, Russia’s famous ladies’ synchronized swimming duet got their obligatory gold medal again. Natalya Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina grabbed gold, becoming four-time Olympic champions. In the final duet free routine they scored 98.5333. The combined score of the free routines and technical routines is 194.9910. This was the 12th gold medal for the Russian Federation.

The five-time Olympic champions Natalya Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina might retire after Rio 2016. After their victory in duets, both swimmers said they would make serious career decisions after the Olympics. “I think that we have a very good substitutes’ bench. Russia is the leader in world synchronized swimming, including juniors and youth teams. They win European and world championships. Therefore, we will have a good replacement even if Sveta and I retire,” Natalya Ishchenko said. “I feel great. I am overwhelmed with emotions when I realize that Sveta and I are five-time Olympic champions. We controlled our feelings for so long for fear of splattering our emotions but now we can give vent to our feelings and enjoy our victories in full measure,” the synchronized swimmer said.

“When we got out of the water and saw the scores, we understood that we had won. We had a huge lead after the technical routine and scoring more points was simply impossible,” Natalya Ishchenko went on to say. The Russian women presented their Olympic free routine called “Molba” (prayer) at the World Championships in 2015. It was slightly modified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It’s always easier for the audience to watch a funny and cheerful performance rather than a prayer. It is much more difficult to convey these feelings to the viewers. But I think that we coped with the task,” Natalya Ishchenko stressed (TASS, 19.08.2016).

Natalya Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashino, Olympic gold medal synchronized swimming duet:

Russian synchronised swimming stars Natalya Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina’s flawless routines have long had fans joking they are secretly mermaids or have gills. In their free routine final at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the duet at least pretended to. Wearing scale-inspired swimsuits and batting their lean legs out of the water, feet sticking out to look like tails, they collected gold – as expected – and came even closer to sealing their status as sirens. “Sometimes everyone calls us mermaids and asks us if we have gills, so we are really comfortable in this performance,” said Svetlana Romashina after their routine, as she took bobby pins out of her heavily gelled-back hair. Russians, bringing a tradition of ballet to the pool, have taken home the Olympic gold for duets since 2000, earning a reputation for extreme precision and ever more creative choreographies. The mermaid routine was so special for the Russian pair, which also won gold at the Olympics in 2012, that they had the enticing music specially written for the Games (Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS, 16.08.2016).

Natalya Sergeyevna Ishchenko (Наталья Сергеевна Ищенко) was born in Smolensk, on the 8th of April 1986. The Russian competitor in synchronized swimming is a five-times Olympic champion and nineteen-times world champion. She has announced to retire on the 1st of January 2017. Svetlana Alekseyevna Romashina (Светлана Алексеевна Ромашина) was born in Moscow, on the 21st of September 1989. This Russian competitor in synchronized swimming is also a five-times Olympic champion and nineteen-times world champion. She might also retire on the 1st of January 2017.

The “mermaids”, Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina:

On the 19th of August, Russian women won the Olympic synchronized swimming gold in the team competitions. This was the 13th medal for Russia. Vlada Chigiryova, Natalya Ishchenko, Svetlana Kolesnichenko, Alexandra Patskevich, Yelena Prokofieva, Svetlana Romashina, Alla Shishkina, Maria Shurochkina and Gelena Topilina scored a total of 196.1439 points after two programs with technical and free routines. Svetlana Romashina and Natalya Ishchenko won their fifth Olympic title, two times in duets and three times in team event, repeating the record of their compatriot Anastasiya Davydova. The Russian national synchronized swimming team had already won Olympic team events in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Alexandra Patskevich, Alla Shishkina, Natalya Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina had won the Olympic team event in London, in 2012 (TASS, 19.08.2016).

The 20th of August 2016 was a golden day for Russia in Rio de Janeiro. In great triumph the Russian Federation won four gold medals. The Russian women’s handball team won gold medal number 14. They had already been the silver medalist of the 2008 Olympic Games, furthermore world champion in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009, the bronze medalist of the 2006 European Championship and the silver medalist of 2000 and 2008. This 2016 Olympic golden medal crowns their efforts. “Russia won in a tight, fast-paced final in front of a rapturous crowd. They fell to the ground and embraced. ‘We did what we wanted … everything for me is like a dream,’ Russia’s beaming Anna Sen, 25, told reporters. The team sang ‘We came here to win’ in the locker room” (Alexandra Ulmer, REUTERS, 20.08.2016). The head coach of the Russian Women’s handball team, Evgeniy Trefilov, praised his athletes, “I think this victory will give a great boost to the development of handball and sports as a whole,” he said (RUSSIA TODAY, 20.08.2016). 

As was to be expected, Russia won a gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics as well. Ever since Irina Viner-Usmanova has been training the Russian team, they have won one Olympic gold medal after the other. On the 20th of August 2016, it was Rita Mamun’s turn to snatch gold, winning the 15th Olympic gold medal for Russia. “A display full of grace and elegance allowed Margarita Mamun to capture the individual all-around gold and stretch Russia’s dominance in rhythmic gymnastics into a fifth straight Olympics. A total score of 76.483 carried Mamun to the top of the podium. Chants of ‘Rus-si-a, Rus-si-a’ echoed around the arena. The gymnast known as “The Bengal Tiger”, because her father hails from Bangladesh, knew that the gold would be hers if she avoided any glaring errors and so it proved to be” (Pritha Sarkar, REUTERS, 20.08.2016).

Born to a Bangladeshi father and Russian mother, rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun showed off her exquisite balancing and twirling skills as she captured what she called “a victory for two countries” in the individual all around event at the Olympics. The 20-year-old Russian goes by the nickname of ‘The Bengal Tiger” but rather than knocking over her rivals with brute force, she simply left them chasing shadows as she produced four dazzling routines with the hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon to win her first global all around title.

Margarita Mamun, Olympic gold medal rhythmic gymnastics:

Margarita “Rita” Mamun (Маргарита Мамун) was born in Moscow, on the 1st of November 1995.  The Russian-Bangladeshi rhythmic gymnast  is a three-time (2011–2013) Russian National All-around Champion. She is also the current record holder under the 20-point judging system with the highest all-around total of 77.150 points, which she scored at the 2016 Baku World Cup.

Rita Mamun, who had represented Bangladesh as a junior, was delighted that her victory was also being celebrated in her father Abdullah Al Mamun’s homeland. “I’m really happy knowing that I have a lot of fans in Bangladesh, who have been supporting me,” added Rita Mamun in Russian. “I can count from one to ten in Bengali. When I was younger, my dad used to teach me Bengali but I have forgotten it all.” And why did she chose to represent Bangladesh as a junior, considering she was born and raised in Russia, her mother’s homeland? “I had dual citizenship so that’s why I decided to represent Bangladesh in one competition as a junior. I came back to represent Russia, as I always lived and trained in Russia.” Bangladesh, a very small country in Central Asia, has never won an Olympic medal yet (THE STAR ONLINE, 21.08.2016).

“Bengal Tiger” Margarita Mamun in Rio:

The 16th gold medal for Russia came in wrestling again, as Russia’s Abdulrashid Sadulaev won the Olympic freestyle wrestling men’s 86 kg. Abdulrashid Sadulaev, 20, born in Dagestan, is a two-time world champion. He lives in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala. Abdulrashid Bulachevich Sadulaev (Абдулрашид Булачевич Садулаев) was born in the Charodinsky District of Dagestan, on the 9th of May 1996. The Russian freestyle wrestler of Avar descent has been nicknamed the “Russian Tank”. He is a two time World Champion (2014, 2015) and two time Cadet World Champion (2012, 2013).  Abdulrashid Sadulaev became the 2014 World Champion in the 86 kg class at age 18, and Olympic Champion at age 20. He has been undefeated in competition since November 2013 and is considered by many to be the most dominant wrestler worldwide. As of August 2016, Abdulrashid Sadulaev is the top ranked 86 kg wrestling competitor in the world.

The correspondent of “Championat” talked with the Dagestani wrestler after the final match. “The Olympics has been a dream since my childhood. Today, I am happy that I met the expectations of the coaches, our fans and those who are worried about us”, Abdulrashid Sadulaev said. When asked, why he jumped over the barrier of the podium, he said, “There were my friends and brothers, all my loved ones. They have come here to support me, I am very grateful to them all. I would also like to thank the Vice-President of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Omar Murtuzaliev” (CHAMPIONAT.COM, 21.08.2016).

Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Olympic gold medal free-style wrestling:

Last but not least, Alexander Lesun won the 17th gold medal for Russia, on the 20th of August 2016. He reached his victory in modern pentathlon at the Summer Olympics in Rio with 1,479 points. Alexander Lesun said he was going to win in Rio de Janeiro even before departing there. “I am not going to look at the statue of Jesus Christ in Corcovado, I am going to win”, Alexander Lesun promised. He further plans to participate in the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo. “I am eager to perform there, not merely in a personal competition but also in the mixed one with Donata Rimshaite,” Alexander Lesun said. Russia’s gold winner in modern pentathlon at the Olympic Games in Rio told reporters that he also wants to win gold at the next games in Tokyo, “I have such a dream. Why not? The next Olympics will be in Tokyo, where I have never been before” (TASS, 21.08.2016).

Alexander Leonidovich Lesun (Александр Леонидович Лесун) was born in Barysaw, Belarus, on the 1st of July 1988. Today, he has dual Belarus-Russian citizenship. The Russian pentathlete is a multiple-time medalist at the World Championships. At the World Championships in Chengdu, China, he won two medals for the individual and relay teams. He also added his first ever gold medal at the 2010 World Cup in Budapest, Hungary. Then he led a strong Russian team to win the gold medal at the World Championships in Moscow.  He won his first individual gold medal at the 2012 World Pentathlon Championships. The gold medal 2016 in Rio is his first Olympic gold medal. 

Alexander Lesun, Olympic gold medal modern pentathlon:

The final triumph for Russia happened on the last day, August 21, with two more gold medals. Russia’s rhythmic gymnastics team won the 18th gold medal in the group competition. “The Russians outperformed their rivals. Vera Biriukova, Anastasia Bliznyuk, Anastasia Maksimova, Anastasia Tatareva and Maria Tolkacheva of Russia pulled themselves together to do the best and not to give any chance to their opponents. The five-woman team displayed a brilliant finish during the second rotation – an intricate set of dancing and gymnastics with tossing clubs and hoops that would look right at home in Cirque Du Soleil – to claim a fifth straight Olympic gold” (RIO2016.COM, 21.08.2016).

Irina Viner-Usmanova was surely proud of her girls. Her efforts as main trainer of the team have shown golden results, just like her husband’s sponsoring of the fencing team proved to be very effective, too. The Russian Federation may be grateful to the combined input of Irina Viner-Usmanova and Alisher Usmanov. They have invested a lot of time, money and hard work to help the Russian fencers and rhythmic gymnasts.

Russian freestyle wrestler Soslan Ramonov won the 19th gold medal for Russia at the 2016 Olympics in the weight class of up to 65 kg. His fight lasted only two minutes. He dedicated his victory to his countryman Besik Kuduhovu, who died in a car accident, in 2013. The wrestler Soslan Ramonov talked to Sport Express, “Victory came easy, my mood probably helped. The most important thing is to tune in well. Then all will go by itself. The head is not thinking, the hands work by themselves. The ambiguity in the question of Russia’s participation in the Olympics was the most horrible thing. Our team was tense and worried, watching the news every day. Of course, getting to the Olympics became a victory for us. This motivated us. We had to prove that we had not come in vain” (SPORT-EXPRESS, 21.08.2016).

Soslan Lyudvikovich Ramonov (Сослан Людвикович Рамонов) was born in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, on the 1st of January 1991. The Ossetian-born Russian freestile wrestler won a national and a world title in the – 65 kg category, in 2014. He is coached by Anatoly Margiyev and by his uncle, Stanislav Ramonov. His elder brother Alan is also a competitive wrestler. In his native city Tskhinvali, the capital of the Republic of South Ossetia, fireworks were lit to celebrate Soslan Ramonov’s Olympic victory. “It is very symbolic that today there were fireworks in honor of the champion in his native land. Soslan was born in Tskhinvali, in the first night of 1991. South Ossetia was restless then, and almost the entire male population was armed. Soslan’s father and uncle greatly rejoiced in the birth of the boy and decided to celebrate it with a cannonade that many neighbors took to be New Year’s fireworks. It was the first ceremony in the life of the champion, today was the second” (CHAMPIONAT.COM, 21.08.2016).

Soslan Ramonov, Olympic gold medal freestyle wrestling:

At the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, the five-time Olympic champions in synchronized swimming, Russian stars Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina, carried the flag for Russia. All in all, the Russian Federation may be proud of its wonderful athletes who triumphed in Rio de Janeiro with bravura, although the situation was certainly very difficult for them. Things will get better at the next Summer Olympics, to be held in 2020 in Tokyo.

Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Southern France. Her blog:

https://olivia2010kroth.wordpress.com

Acerca de olivia2010kroth

Escritora y periodista: Pravda
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