Russians claim third place in Olympics medals table

After 16 days of tough competition, Russia's athletes are homeward bound after finishing in third place in the rankings. There were triumphs and disappointments, which will now enter the history books.But it was certainly the hosts of the games, China, wh

The Russians made a very slow start to the competition and managed to improve only at the end of the games.

“It was very difficult to compete against ourselves. The main difficulty was psychological, not physical. We had to work even more than we did before the previous Olympic Games, because expectations were even higher this time. We had to come up with an even more sophisticated programme, more technical perfection,” said Anastasia Ermakova of the victorious Russian synchronised swimming team.

Twenty-three golds and an overall tally of 72 medals would be a decent result for many countries. However, the Russian team's performances at the previous two games were better. Nevertheless the Russian Olympic Committee regards the outcome as a success, as the main goal of finishing in third place overall was reached after all.

Igor Kazikov from the Russian Olympic Committee noted with each Olympics it takes more effort to win: “I believe this result is high, though it’s lower than expected. But the U.S. also won fewer medals than before. It proves a world trend – that it’s getting harder to grab medals. All sportsmen train intensively, coaches use sophisticated training methods and states invest more funds in sport”.

The one team which really made a strong breakthrough at the games is Great Britain. Eight golds in cycling alone, four golds in sailing and 19 overall top medals, not to mention a final fourth spot in the rankings. This is something that hasn't happened for the last 100 years.

For some fans from the UK the trip to China has been about business, as well as reconnaissance prior to London's hosting of the next Summer Olympics in 2012.