Year to go to Tokyo 2020: the Olympics can become one of the best for Tatarstan

And probably the worst for Russia

Year to go to Tokyo 2020: the Olympics can become one of the best for Tatarstan Photo: tvc.ru

The 32nd Summer Olympics will kick off in Tokyo in a year. Undoubtedly, it is hard to predict something now, as any forecast should begin with the question “will our country compete at the Games?” But the dynamics of events allows presupposing that it is going to be the worst performance of Russia at the Olympics. Paradoxically, athletes from Tatarstan will meanwhile be at the summit. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

What’s changed between Rio and Tokyo?

At the Olympics in Brazil in 2016, the exhausted team Russia finished fourth. Both in the number of gold medals and overall standings. It should be reminded that we almost didn’t have our track and field athletes in Rio, except for Daria Klishina who didn’t win a medal, we didn’t have weightlifters, a smaller team of rowers went there. Moreover, there was a unique situation with the rowers in general when we had to make crews with the athletes who were allowed to participate in the Games, this is why there was no chance to hope for medals.

Sadly, the course of events directly confirms the correctness of the point that big victories are needed to develop a sport. Weightlifters missed the Olympics, and all Russian weightlifting is already limping. For instance, at the recent World Junior Weightlifting Championships, Russians finished 11th falling behind Iran, the USA, Japan — the countries that hadn’t been considered rivals earlier. Junior athlete Zulfat Garayev from Chelny won a bronze, but the total weight he lifted is far from being enough to be up for a seat in the national team. Only Maria Petrova is now among the candidates from Tatarstan there.

The rowers were also recovered completely, but they can go to the Games in their current state sticking to the Olympic principle that “it's not the winning but the taking part that counts”. At the recent European championship, Russian rowers won just one bronze. In this respect, even the biggest representation of Tatarstan representative in the national squad doesn’t gladden. Kira Yuvchenko joined our veteran Artyom Kosov. She arrived in Kazan from Ukraine to enter the Volga sports academy. She settled, stayed here seeing unique opportunities of the local Rowing Centre. Tatarstan foil fencers Adelya Abdrakhmanova and Marta Martyanova won a gold of the European Championships, but it was a team event, while the girls didn’t advance much individually. In any case, they didn’t get to the country’s team to the senior world championship, though Martyanova was in the team in 2018.

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“The Daniil Tsyplakov case”, a high jumper who was found discrepancies in documents with samples, became an obstacle. Photo: vk.com

Pressure on athletics. Ruthless and senseless

Unfortunately, the latest events show that Russian athletics is rolling towards an abyss slowly but confidently. It might seem that we were again at the edge having met all the IAAF requirements to recover the membership in the athletics federation. “The Daniil Tsyplakov case”, a high jumper who was found discrepancies in documents with samples, became an obstacle.

The International Association of Athletics Federation isn’t ashamed of any methods regarding Russia, it is good that the national Russian Athletics Federation is rushing making the same mistakes with unfailing regularity and throwing athletes under the bus, which is the most offensive thing, not ironclad foreheads of the federation’s officials.

Without going into detail, we will say that the membership of the Russian Athletics Federation in the international federation hasn’t been restored a year to go to the Olympics. By the way, the complaints about Tsyplakov were made at the moment when $3 million were transferred to the IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federation, which was the last barrier before the restoration at the moment. The money was sent, and Tsyplakov appeared immediately, while the press prepared a report on disqualified coach Viktor Chegin who continues working in the Russian athletics system. All the above-mentioned makes us think that nobody is interested in restoring Russian track athletes’ rights.

Two years ago, a “limited contingent” of Russian track and field athletes had a splendid performance in the world championship in London. They were 19 in total, without the anthem, the flag, national symbols, relay teams, as they simply didn’t have enough competitors. They were mainly young, as a lot of leaders remained under the ban of the IAAF. And the Russians won six medals, one gold, one in three in fact stepped onto the podium. To compare, at the WC in 2015, Russia had only four medals we sent a team of 72 track athletes to get them.

There were no complaints about Russia in the WC 2017, the squad consisted of the youth, which doesn’t have to and can’t be held accountable for the wrongdoings of their older mates, real and imaginary. And the IAAF holds everything against Russia. Meanwhile, three Americans fought for the victory in the 100m final at the same WC in Beijing — Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Michael Rogers plus Asafa Powell from Jamaica who had been punished for doping. Kenia whose two runners were caught up taking doping right at the WC won the overall victory of that championship. In 2014-2015, the number of doped athletes from this country totalled 36 people. This is direct evidence of guilt of the athletes from Kenia, the USA, Jamaica, but “for some reason” Russians are punished for indirect evidence of the presence of a state-run doping problem.

Table tennis player Sadi Ismailov won an individual bronze at the Universiade in Napoli. It might seem to be an insignificant event considering the tournament’s scale. Actually, this is the first medal of Russia in individual events in the competition against Chinese. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Not obvious Sadi Ismailov

We will discuss water sports after the end of the world championships, but we will write beforehand that Tatarstan will be looking for its chances of Olympic medals in Tokyo’s swimming pools. The chances are very high.

Svetlana Lipatova continues expanding the collection of awards from international competitions. This year, she’s had a silver of the European championship and the position of the number one of the country’s wrestling team.

Table tennis player Sadi Ismailov won an individual bronze at the Universiade in Napoli. It might seem to be an insignificant event considering the tournament’s scale. Actually, this is the first medal of Russia in individual events in the competition against Chinese. And now they are everywhere, three dozens of ex-Chinese women and about 20 Chinese men have played in European championships in the last 15 years. Now they are playing in Europe as juniors. This is why Ismailov’s bronze is a success. Sadi is another, though not obvious, candidate for a trip to Tokyo.

The debut of new sports in the Olympic programme can provide Tatarstan with another Olympian. Pupil of Kazan basketball Anastasia Shuvagina, famous local coach Dmitry Shuvagin’s daughter, has recently performed at the European Games in Belarus. Anastasia represents the new Olympic discipline streetball defending the colours of the Superleague’s Dinamo-Kursk team.

Zenit-Kazan volleyball players can apply “for medals” among team sports in the national team of Russia, while Dynamo-Kazan volleyballers must be candidates to participate in the Olympic festival. Water polo players also have a chance, especially if Russia tries to host a qualifier.

Marat Bariyev: “I think we will know by September if there will be any complaints about us and what they are”

And we will start publishing our experts’ opinion who forecast the participation of Tatarstan athletes at the 2020 Olympics with volleyball players. We are giving the floor to Director of Zenit-Kazan VC Oleg Bryzgalov:

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“Aleksey Verbov didn’t exclude in many of his interviews that he could be back to both volleyball and the national team to participate in the Olympics. He particularly received such a proposal from the national team’s head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. Now everything will depend on Aleksey himself: if he will manage to approach the competition in due shape. He really wants it to finish his career beautifully.”

Maksim Mikhailov is one of the two strongest opposite hitters in Russia together with our pupil Viktor Poletayev, who is now playing at Kuzbass. I think Mikhailov will certainly be in the team, I hope no injuries will impede him from it. He has spent this low season treating his injuries.

The club also did an uneasy job linked with the invitation of Fyodor Voronkov, a talented young volleyballer who has to live up to the expectations we have, to Kazan. The coaching staff promised to provide him with enough playing practice, and this circumstance became one of the key moments why Voronkov replied to our proposal. And Fyodor has motivation in spades.

Head coach of the Tatarstan skeet shooting team Sergey Dyomin is having an extra chance to look at Russian national team members these days who are participating in the Russian championship in Kazan:

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“To go to the Games, one has to obtain an Olympic licence first. This process is coming to an end now, as only the championship of Europe and the World Cup left where we can fight for these licences. At this moment, Russia has won several licences. Natalia Vinogradov did it in Olympic skeet shooting plus there is a licence in the mixed trap that Yevgeny Alipov and Yekaterina Rabaya won.

These licences aren’t personal, they are given to the country, this is why any Russian athlete can fight for them. For instance, Albina Shakirova is now shooting better than Vinogradova, and we can hope that she will fight for the existing ticket to Tokyo. On the other hand, we can easily lose the licence Yekaterina Rabaya obtained. Katia filed a claim that she can’t compete due to a back injury, after that she was eliminated from the preparation system. She went through rehabilitation, is competing again, but at the moment she isn’t in the squad, this is why she hasn’t been in the recent World Cup. We will see if she will manage to come back, as she’s been third individually and in mixed now.

Sadly, the introduction of mixed into the Olympic programme divested it of such a discipline as double trap. For this reason, we can complain that veteran of our shooting Vasily Mosin won’t compete in Tokyo.

We have Nikolay Tyoply in Olympic skeet shooting, but he has a rival in the person of the world champion Nikolay Zemlin from Krasnodar, strong Muscovite Yaroslav Startsev, and they all will fight for a licence, which still has to be obtained.

Deputy of the Russian State Duma Marat Bariyev summarised the general expectations. The ex-sports minister of Tatarstan made a review of all sports:

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“It is hard to do detailed analysis of the readiness of our national team for the Games, as the season is at its height, the World Fencing Championships are just coming to an end, swimming will end by the end of the week, athletics will start later. Fencing, by the way, surprised because representatives of countries in which nobody had ever heard of this sport became medallists. But we talked about China with South Korea in the same way some 20 years ago, and then our coaches went there, and this bore fruit. Now, by the world, the world championship reminds the Union’s championship — almost all representatives of the coaching staff from different countries speak Russian. They total about 300 people around the globe.”

“Tatarstan” sports, in my opinion, won’t change: skeet shooting, volleyball, water sports. Our athletes can potentially compete in rhythmic gymnastics, in team events. And it is the sports where we hope to not only participate but also win medals. Plus we have cyclist Ilnur Zakarin.

The whole team gradually prepares for the Olympics, except for Russian track and field athletes. Meanwhile, it is known that about WADA had suspicions that 300 samples from the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory were positive, and an investigation was launched there. We so far don’t know the names, the total number, the outcome the next investigation will bring to, the deadlines when it ends. I think we will know by September if there will be any complaints about us and what they are.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin