Russia is successful at a number of sports and continuously finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic games a considerable share of which belongs to the Russian women.
Russia is the birthplace of rhythmic gymnastics. It is also considered one of the most popular sports in the country. Irina Tchachina, Alina Kabaeva, Yanina Batyrchina and Yulia Barsukova turned out to be Russia' top rhythmic gymnasts.
The main names are: Eugenia Kanaeva. The winner of the 29th Olympic Games 2008 in Beijing; absolute world champion in 2009; absolute Champion of Europe 2008 and 2010; absolute world champion in 2010.
Alina Kabaeva. The winner of the 28th Olympic Games 2004 in Athens. Kabaeva is Russia's most successful rhythmic gymnast to date, and is also one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics with two Olympic medals, 18 world championship medals and 25 European championship medals. Retired in 2004.
Yulia Barsukova. The winner of the 27th Olympic Games 2000 in Sydney.
Irina Tchachina - individual rhythmic gymnast, considered to be one of the most elegant and technical gymnasts ever. In 2001 she won the gold in the hoop and individual all-around (she also won the silver in the ball, clubs and rope) at the 2001 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Madrid, Spain, yet Irina and her teammate Alina Kabaeva tested positive to a banned diuretic and were stripped of their medals. At the Athens Olympics in 2004 she won the Silver medal in the All-Around competition. Retired in 2006.
Great achievements of Russian gymnastics are also associated with the names of Olympic champions Alexei Nemov and Svetlana Khorkina. Nemov is one of the most medaled gymnasts, male or female, of all time. He has won 12 Olympic medals, including more Olympic bronze medals (six) than any other athlete. Svetlana Khorkina is a seven-time Olympic medalist. Besides, Russia is proud of the achievement of Ksenia Dmitrievna Afanasyeva, 2011 World Champion in the Floor Exercise, a four time world and European medalist on balance beam Ludmila Ezhova, Irina Karavayeva - first female Olympic champion in trampolining. She is a three time European Champion, 3 time World Champion and 2000 Olympic Champion.
Hockey is one of most played sports in Russia. Russia has a total of 77,702 players, about 0.05% of its population. Russian hockey team is rated first in IIHF World Rankings and remains one of the top teams in the world. The team has been competing internationally since 1993 and follows a long tradition of Soviet teams mostly composed of Russian players. In 2008, the Russian national team became world champion in hockey. During the championship in 2009, the Russian national team confirmed its title. Russian hockey is known for high level of development of regional clubs in Omsk, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets, Yaroslavl, Ufa, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, etc. Most known hockey players from Russia today: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexei Morozov, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Zinoviev, Sergei Fedorov, Ilya Kovalchuk.
Russia is a leader in its longtime dominion of pair skating or ice dance. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until the present day, a Soviet or Russian pair has won gold. This is considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history. Here are just a few of the Russian figure skaters who have helped win over 70 World Championships and 20 plus Olympic Gold medals in the past 40 years.
Irina Rodnina - the only pair skater to win 10 successive World Championships (1969 to 1978) and three successive Olympic Gold medals (1972, 1976, 1980); Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov - were 6 time World Champions (1970 to 1974, 1976) and 1976 Olympic Champions in ice dancing; Sergei Volkov - first Soviet World Champion in men's figure skating (1975); Alexei Urmanov - men's Gold medalist at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway; Ilya Kulik - men's Gold medalist at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan; Alexei Yagudin - four-time men's World Champion (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002) and men's Gold medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA; Maria Butyrskaya - 1999 women's World Champion; Irina Slutskaya - women's World Champion in 2002 and 2005; Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze - two-time pairs World Champions (1998, 1999) and Gold medalists at 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City; Evgeni Plushenko - 2006 Winter Olympics Gold Medalist.
Tennis has produced a number of famous tennis players in Russia. In recent years, the amount of top Russian women players has been considerable, with both Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina reaching number one in the WTA rankings.
Other Russian women to achieve international success Anastasia Myskina, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Kirilenko, Anna Chakvetadze, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Elena Lihovtseva, Nadia Petrova, Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian Federation has won the Fed Cup 4 times, in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Russia swept the women's tennis podium with Elena Dementieva winning the gold, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva the silver and bronze, respectively. As of October 16, 2009, two Russian women were ranked in the WTA tour's top 10; with an additional two in the Top 20. Russia also boasts two former number 1 men's players-Safina's older brother Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Russian men currently in the top 50 include Nikolay Davydenko, Igor Andreev, Igor Kunitsyn, and Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian men won the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006.
In 2008, the Russian Tennis Federation celebrated its 100-year anniversary, and on sports results at the same anniversary year, took a leading place among the world's 205 national tennis federations that are members of the International Tennis Federation. In recent years, the Russians won 10 Grand Slams, 3 Fed Cup and one Davis Cup.
Russia is highly rated in synchronized swimming. Starting with the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, the Russian team had not been given a single gold medal to the teams from other countries. Today the legends of world synchronized swimming are: four-time Olympic champions, multiple World and European champions, winners of the World Cup and Europe, Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova, triple Olympic champions Olga Brusnikina and Maria Kiseleva.
Russian and Soviet athletes who won the most amount of gold, silver and bronze medals on both Summer and Winter Olympic Games are: Ljubov Egorova - won 3 gold medals and 1 silver in Cross-Country skiing at 17 Winter Olympic Games - Lillehammer, 1994; Larissa Lazutina - took 3 gold medals 1 silver (15 km Classical) and 1 bronze (30 km Free) in Cross-Country at 18 Nagano Winter Olympic Games, 1998; Speed skaters from USSR Yevgeny Grishin and Lydia Skoblikova won 2 gold medals each at 8 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, 1960.
Also Lydia Skoblikova won all events in Speed Skating - 4 gold medals at 9 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, 1964 and Claudia Boyarskikh took 3 gold medals in Cross-Country that year in Innsbruck as well.
Russian school of skiing produced 72 Olympic champions (41 in cross-country skiing and 31 in biathlon) and 103 World Champions (48 skiers and 55 biathlonists). Skiers Lyubov Yegorova, and Larissa Lazutina awarded the title Hero of Russia.
Women shooting events have been the integral part of the Olympics. Russian women shooters have graced Olympic shooting events. Marina Logvinenko is the current Olympic record holder in women's 10 meter air pistol. She got 390 points and the games were 1996 Atlanta. Lioubov Galkina holds the record in women's 10 meter air rifle with 399 points which were amassed in the 2004 Athens Summer Games.
Football in Russia is one of the most popular sports. The highest achievement of Russian national team was the third place in the European Championship 2008. This success was brought by the coach from Netherlands Guus Hiddink. Russian football clubs won the UEFA Cup (now called UEFA Europa League) in 2007/2008 (FC Zenit from Saint Petersburg) and in 2004/2005 (FC CSKA from Moscow). Several Russian footballers play in the world's leading football clubs: Andrei Arshavin in Arsenal, Yuri Zhirkov in Chelsea.
Most famous name in Russian pole-vaulting is Yelena Isinbayeva. She is twice an Olympic gold medalist (2004 and 2008), five-times a World Champion, and the current world record holder in the event. She is the only woman to exceed 5 meters having reached that height in 2005 and who has in total broken the women's world-record (indoor and outdoor), 27 times, culminating in her current world record of 5.06 meters obtained in 2009 at Letzigrund in Zurich. As a result of her accomplishments, she is widely considered the greatest female pole-vaulter of all time.
High jump is associated with names of Andrei Silnov - Olympic Champion 2008 and Yaroslav Rybakov - as three times World Championship silver medalist, world champion in 2009. Anna Chicherova is a rising star of high jump. She is a gold medalist at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and won a bronze medal in the event at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Another well-known name is Yelena Slesarenko. She is a gold winner at the 2004 Summer Olympics and took top placed at numerous indoor and outdoor European and World championships.
Russia expects to say a word at weightlifting and has already set the bar high for the London Olympics after 2011 gold medals at World Championships.
Russian weightlifter Svetlana Tsarukaeva has set a world record while lifting the gold medal in the women’s 63-kilogram division at the World Championships in Paris. The 23-year-old already claimed world championship silvers in 2007 and 2009. Nadezhda Yevstyukhina snatched gold at the World Weightlifting Championships in Paris in 2011. Yevstyukhina is the winner of the European 2011 title and the bronze winner of the 2008 Olympics. Tatiana Kashirina is the current world champion of the +75 kg category.
Powerlifting seems to be inspiring sports in Ukraine and Belarus as well. Well- known female weight lifters: Anna Sinelnikova, master of sports, winner of powerlifting competitions in Ukraine, Yulia Bocharova master of Sports numerous competitions in Russia, Galina Titova master of sports in powerlifting and a silver medal winner in 2010 Bodyflex competition in Belarus are well known
The chess history in Russia dates back to the 13th century. This sport was by Russians in the post-war (1945) era. The winner of the 1948 World Chess Championship was Russian Mikhail Botvinnik.
Chess is also a favorite pastime. In 1982, there were 3.6 million people in the USSR engaged in chess and the game remains one of most popular in Russia. Despite the men domination in chess on the international arena Russian women can be proud of top world titles.
In 1936, over 10,000 women players took part in the eliminating sections of the Russian Women's chess championship. In 1948, Elizabeth Bykova became the first Soviet woman to achieve a master's rating. In 1957, the first Women's Chess Olympiad was held, in the Netherlands. The USSR women's team won the gold. Most notable figure of nowadays is Alexandra Kosteniuk, a Russian chess Grandmaster and a former Women's World Chess Champion. Her greatest success so far has been to win the Women's World Chess Championship 2008, beating in the final the young Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan.
The development of modern biathlon in Russia began at the start of the 20th century. Women’s Olympic biathlon made its debut in 1992 at the XVI Winter Games in Alberville, France. Russian biathlete Anfisa Reztsova was crowned the first female biathlon champion when she won gold at these Games in the 7.5 km sprint. Some of famous Russian women biathletes of today are Svetlana Sleptsova, Anna Bogaliy-Titivets, Natalia Guseva, and Olga Zaitzeva Russian female biathlon team is now couched by German specialist Wolfgang Pichler to do their best at the Sochi Olympics.
Russian women fencing team is known to have won the sabre team gold at the fencing World Championships in Paris in 2010. Viktoria Nikishina, Aida Shanaeva, Svetlana Boyko and Evgenia Lamonova bagged the fencing women’s foil team gold at 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Russian air sports develops in various directions covering a range of aerial activities like aerobatics, aallooning, aeneral aviation (including air racing), gliding, model aircraft, parachuting, paragliding. Russian sports aviation training and championships distinguish aviation records in speed, height, duration, etc and competition aerobatics on light manoeuvring single-engine airplanes and gliders. Known Russian Aerobatics teams are Russian Knights, Strizhi (Swifts), Falcons of Russia (Russian Air Force).
The Soviet and later the Russian national team is one of the best in the world leading at World Aerobatics Championship. A variety of Unlimited (top level) category competitions have seen absolute championships won by Russian pilots: Vladimir Martemyanov and Galina Korchuganova (1966), Igor Yegorov and Svetlana Savitskaya (later twice Hero of the Soviet Union, USSR astronaut pilot) (1970), Victor Letsko and Lidia Leonova (1978), Valentina Yaikova (1978), Victor Smolin (1982), Khalide Makagonova (1984), Lyubov Nemkova (1986), Natalia Sergeyeva (1990), Victor Chmal (1996), Svetlana Kapanina (1996, 1998, 2001, 2003), Mikhail Mamistov (2001), and Sergei Rakhmanin (2003). There is no female sports team. In the national team there are only two women Svetlana Kapanina and Elena Klimovich.
During the Soviet times air sports was developed by DOSAAF (Voluntary Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Fleet). Its functions are now performed by ROSTO (Russian Russian Defence Sports-Technical Organization). Besides, there is a Russian Air Sports Federation that is mainly focused on Aerobatics championships. The Soviet and Russian teams have been flying aeroplanes made by the Sukhoi and Yakovlev firms. The Su-26 and Su-31 aeroplanes.
Russia's national power and glider aerobatics teams train at the Drakino airfield facilities of the Serpukhov ASK ROSTO. The aviation clubs are almost in all major cities of Russia. Since 1993, Russian pilots have been taking part in aerobatic glider events.
The 1980 Games were the first to be staged in Eastern Europe. They took place in Moscow, the Soviet Union. The games turned out to be a tremendous showcase for the Soviet athletes who, raked in a staggering 195 medals, 80 of which glittered gold. Highlights of the Games included the virtuoso gymnastic displays of Alexsandr Dityatin, (USSR) who won eight medals, including gold in the team events, the individual event and the rings event. He also won silver medals in the vault, parallel bars, fixed bar and pommel horse, and the bronze medal in the floor exercises. Another Soviet star was Vladimir Salnikov, who won three gold medals, in the 400m freestyle, 4×200m relay and 1,500m.
Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The city was elected on 4 July 2007, during the 119th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Guatemala City, Guatemala. This will be the first time that the Russian Federation will host the Winter Olympics as the previous 1980 Summer Games were hosted by the Soviet Union. The Sochi Olympic Park built by the Black Sea coast in the Imeretin Valley. The resort area of Krasnaya Polyana is slated to host the snow events (alpine and Nordic).
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