OLYMPICS: What happened to Russian dominance?

Published on May 1st, 2013

Georgiy Shaiduko, senior vice president of the Russian Yachting Federation, member of the Executive Committee of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and silver medalist in the Soling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, discusses what happened to the Russian Olympic program:

The St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year, was Europe’s first. Back in Soviet times, we were leaders of the Olympic sailing movement. Team USSR won seven gold and 28 silver medals, but the collapse of the Soviet Union and the difficult 1990s dealt a serious blow to sailing as a sport. Virtually the entire infrastructure was destroyed and many talented sportsmen emigrated.

But the past five years have seen a revival of sailing as a sport in Russia. Last year, we pushed through legislative amendments that have opened our territorial waters to yachtsmen from all over the world. They had been closed since 1939, on the orders of Lavrentiy Beriya [the Soviet chief of the secret police under Stalin]. Further liberalization of our waterways is in progress, which will allow us to host major racing regattas, develop coastal and inshore water tourism and bring big benefits to our economy.

Competition that we could only dream about has already started to emerge among sportsmen. Three hundred people, mainly juniors, competed in the most recent Russian championship. It’s on the young people that we will be betting for the next Olympics. We have completely changed the training process, beginning this year, by inviting a foreign coach – the Greek Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou. We hope this will bear fruit.

In my opinion, at Rio we stand a chance in the following disciplines: Laser, Laser Radial, windsurf, 470 and catamaran. Let’s hope we are successful in at least one of the classes. One or two medals at Rio would be considered a success, but, at the Olympics after that, we will certainly count on winning some more. At the 2020 Olympics we will see Russia’s sailing at its best.

Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines

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