Russia not looking good on the other world stage
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images Beach volleyball isn’t the only event giving Russia fits in Beijing. More than a few Russian Olympians have faltered in competition and come up well short of national medal expectations. In fact, it wasn’t until today that Russia captured its first gold medals of these games, with both Nazyr Mankiev and Islam-Beka ...
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Beach volleyball isn’t the only event giving Russia fits in Beijing.
More than a few Russian Olympians have faltered in competition and come up well short of national medal expectations. In fact, it wasn’t until today that Russia captured its first gold medals of these games, with both Nazyr Mankiev and Islam-Beka Albiev taking top honors in Greco-Roman wrestling. Adding those two golds, Russia’s medal count now totals 12, which still leaves it far behind China (27) and the United States (29) — and pretty unlikely to reach its goal of 80 medals by the games’ end.
One Russian who failed to medal was 20-year-old weightlifter Svetlana Tsarukaeva (left), who added insult to injury by banging her head on the door frame as she exited the competition. Anastasia Zueva, favored for the silver in the 100m backstroke, came in a distant fifth.
Most surprising, though, are the number of setbacks in sports that are typically Russia’s strengths, including gymnastics (the men’s team finished a dismal sixth) and tennis (Maria Sharapova dropped out, and third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova lost in an early round).
So what gives, Russia? It could be that the team is still shaken after five of its members — including a discus champ and former world-record holding hammer thrower — were suspended for reportedly trying to cheat on their drug tests. A lack of trainers could also be to blame.
Of course, some might attribute the lackluster showing to bad karma from the Georgia conflict. At least the Russian and Georgian (er, Brazilian?) beach volleyball players put the affair aside, embracing before their match.
In any case, it looks like luck is currently on Georgia’s side. As of about 30 minutes ago, the country just won its first gold of the Beijing Games, thanks to Greco-Roman wrestler Manuchar Kvirkelia.
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