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Team Russia expect 16 medals in Olympic athletics

Athletics has long provided a stream of success for both the USSR and Russia at the Olympics and there’s every chance for the tradition to be preserved in London 2012, with the women’s team being especially strong.

­With 47 sets of medals on offer in athletics, it’s no wonder Russia is counting heavily on their athletics team for success.

They will be heading to London with a 109-strong squad, three more than in Beijing four years ago and they’ll be accompanied by 49 coaches and staff.

“We have chances in 16 athletic events; it’s especially women’s events, 13 women events and 3 men events,”
Valentin Balakhnichev, Russian Athletics Federation's president, told RT.

Rising starlet Ekaterina Poistogova will be heading to London after some truly surprising results earlier this year.

And despite being modest, Ekaterina is as excited as anyone heading to their first Olympics.

“Of course I’m thinking about it,”
she said. “I’m also still very young and my opponents will all be so mature and experienced. But I’ll be trying my best.”

Many eyes will be on the 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relay races as Russia managed to win gold and silver in these two events in 2008.

It’s a celebration for any athlete, to be a part of history, a part of the Olympics and to return from it with a medal,”
Team Russia's Ksenia Vdovina stressed. "Well, that’s probably what not just any athlete would wish for, but any person! But, we’ll see.”

The Athletics President was, however, keen to point out that there were other events Russia would have a good chance in.

“We have very strong events like 4x400 meters race,”
Balakhnichev said. “We have strong throwing events – javelin, hammer and discus. We have good chances in jumping, especially high jump.”

Hopes will lie mainly on the recently crowned Russian high jump champion Irina Gordeeva. She didn’t want to jinx herself prior to the games, but a sparkle was in her eyes.

“I’m not saying anything. It’s a secret,” the athlete said, but then added that she’s hoping for a breakthrough result in London.

The mood within Team Russia’s athletics squad is upbeat and they’ll be sure to dazzle the crowds at the biggest sporting event in the world.