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Interview with Irina Rodnina

Irina Rodnina, legendary figure-skater, winner of 10 World Championships, 3 Olympic gold medals and 11 European Championships, shared with Russia Today her recollections on how Russia won the Winter Olympics bid.

Russia Today: Of course Russia is so excited about winning the 2014 Winter Olympics bid for Sochi. You were there in Guatemala when the announcement was made. How did it feel, what it was like to hear “Sochi” at that moment? Did you even expect it to win?

Irina Rodnina: Of course, like all athletes when you go to a competition. That was a real competition. Of course, we were ready, and we wanted to win. It is very important when you go as a competitor, when you as a leader – that's a different story. When it happened, it was so exciting. I remember everybody jumping, screaming as we had been working very hard for this. All this stuff was like in a competition, everybody was nervous, we were holding each other’s hands. And everybody was repeating the words we needed to tell, how we should go this place and that, what to say and how to speak, what moment you clap hands. It was like in a competition – you get so excited when you win. We had been waiting for it for a long time because never, neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia, we had the Winter Olympic Games.

RT: Did you expect it deep in your heart that you would win, or did you have your doubts that maybe you would win, what did you think?

I.R.: I felt very special when President Putin, he was always with us, he was the first one with his speech, and it was a big surprise for everybody to hear him speaking not only English, but then French also. Each team is strong when it has a strong leader.

RT: How did you feel after the win? Please tell us the details.

I.R.: There were a lot of details.  First of all, we had a very good place.  It was a really big celebration. After two or three hours many members of the International Olympics Committee came in and celebrated it with us.

RT: Vodka drinking?

I.R.: Vodka drinking, eating caviar, singing a lot of Russian songs, especially a song about victory.

RT: So you deserved the occasion. You are three times Olympic Champion yourself. So the main importance of the Olympic Games, you know what it stands for. Do you think the excitement of it being brought back to Russia for 2014 is blown a little out of proportion by the press?

I.R.:  It is very important, everything that we are trying to do for the Olympic Games – our preparation for the Olympic Games. A lot of people know about this. Because one of the most important moments was that 80 percent of Russians support the Olympics. There were a lot of stories about Sochi, about the bid to host Winter Olympics in Sochi.

RT: So you think the prize is right to be owned by Sochi?

I.R.: Absolutely.

RT: We have to wait for almost seven years till the Games actually take place. Are you going to be there in 2014?

I.R.: Of course! I begin practicing very good to be in good shape, surely not for competitions, because what is very important is that the Olympic Games are not only a programme for athletes and media. It’s a great programme for spectators, it is also a cultural event. I think everybody now dreams to be at the Olympic games.

RT: Russian sportsmen are famous for bringing a lot of medals back home. This time they are going to host the Games in Sochi. Do you think they are likely to win more medals because it’s their home?

I.R.: It’s very hard to say as there are seven years before the Games. These seven years are very important when we have good programmes for the future Olympians. It is very important to compete at home because everybody is waiting for your good results, waiting for you to win. It is very important not just to host the games but also to have good results at them, because it’s a great occasion, like a holiday, for everyone, and without gold medals this will not be such a great holiday.

RT: At the presentation of the Sochi bid team, the Sports Minister, Vyacheslav Fetisov, and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandr Zhukov, said that the Olympic village which is being built, will be a legacy to future generations, it is not only for hosting the Olympics. Do you think that the Olympics will take place in Sochi in 2014 will help promote winter sports in Russia, make it more popular, especially with the young generation?

I.R.: Yes, of course. You know after there were Olympic Games in Moscow 27 years ago, all those sports facilities have been working for practically three generations of athletes, and the same will happen with Sochi, especially when we have one very good mountain camp for athletes. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, all such camps were left in other countries, there wasn’t one left in Russia. We don’t have such a big international ski resort in Russia. So, I think all this work will leave a really good legacy for future generations, not only for good results in these Olympic Games, but also for the health of Russian citizens, for making the place good for spending vacations, and for those who want to come from abroad to Russia, for them to see how different Russia is now, and to have a good vacation in the country.

Irina Rodnina on Wikipedia

2014 Sochi Winter Olympics bid

2014 Winter Olympics on Wikipedia