Medvedev awards Olympic athletes, threatens sporting officials
The Russian Olympians who produced successful performances in Vancouver have been greeted by President Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting in the Kremlin.
All the Russian medal winners were awarded with state decorations for their achievements, in accordance with a presidential decree signed shortly after the Games, RIA-Novosti newsagency reports.
Despite the fact that Vancouver turned out to be Russia’s worst Olympics since the times of Tsar, with the country’s team finishing 11th in the overall medals table (3 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze), Dmitry Medvedev found plenty of warm words for the athletes.
"You did terrifically because you managed to achieve victories in very difficult conditions. Your results will never suffer from corrosion; they have nothing to do with the organization of the preparatory process and the omissions, for which the sporting chiefs must be held accountable. You competed and did everything that was in your power,” he said.
The head of the state also pointed out that the results of Vancouver prove that Russia’s Olympic team has “high potential”.
Dmitry Medvedev paid special attention to Russia’s unexpected success in such disciplines as snowboard and skeleton.
"This is very important for us. It was proven by snowboarder Yekaterina Ilyukhina, who won Russia's first ever silver Olympic medal in this kind of sport, and Alexander Tretyakov, who grabbed the bronze medal in the skeleton," Medvedev said.
The President explained that the decree was signed on an operational basis in an effort to break away from a tradition which saw the 2008 Beijing Olympics team receive their well-deserved awards only after almost a year’s delay.
“The memories of your success are still fresh; all your emotions are deep within your souls and hearts – this is the perfect background to reward you for your achievements,” he said.
But Medvedev’s stock of warm words ran out when he started speaking about the country’s sporting officials, with the President promising more reshuffles for them.
“We are analyzing the results of the Olympics, both objectively and subjectively. We’ve already came up with a number of personnel decisions. And those decisions aren’t final. I am holding a meeting of the Sports Council under the President of the Russian Federation shortly; it is apparent that some decision will be taken there as well, concerning the federations first of all,” he said.
”But the most important thing now is not the search for mistakes and those to blame, which is also important, but the most important thing is to set a working mood for the future Olympics. Because we have a very good potential,” he added.
The Kremlin was appalled by Russia's "dismal" performance in Vancouver and called on officials responsible for the preparation of Russia's Olympic team to quit.
Russia’s Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachev was the first to lose his job after the Games, resigning on March 3.