July 29, the Kremlin’s Sobornaya Square hosted the seeing-off ceremony of Russia’s athletes going to China. President Dmitry Medvedev delivered a brief farewell speech, and Andrey Kirilenko, the Russian team’s standard bearer, gave the President a red Cheburashka toy and a T-shirt with number “8” and surname “Medvedev” imprinted on it. Then Vicar of the Patriarch Bishop Bronnitskiy Amvrossy held a service to Russia’s winning in the Olympics at the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Assumption, where the team’s members also took part. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin didn’t see off the athletes, but he is going to support them at the scene proper – he’ll visit the opening ceremonies.
All in all, 842 people instead of the planned 847 set off for Beijing: Thursday, 5 athletes were deprived of the right to participate in the Olympics because they had problems with their doping tests. There are 462 athletes in the Russian delegation, which is 9 people more than the corresponding number of athletes that participated in Athens Olympics four years ago. Of them, 242 are men, and 220 – women. The rest of the delegation are coaches, doctors, technical staff, and sports officials and activists. The average age of the athletes is 26. The representatives of Moscow and the Moscow region are most numerous – 121 and 69 people correspondingly. The athletics team is the biggest in the delegation – 155 people, and the badminton one – the smallest – 3 people. On the whole, Russia’s team is the third in number. The largest one is that of China – 1099 participants (639 athletes), with the USA occupying the second place – 1000 people (596 athletes).
Russians will participate in 39 sports and take part in 244 plays for championship (out of the 302 totally). Russia’s Olympic Committee Chief Leonid Tyagachev presumes that 79-85 people will compete for the medals. “Hopefully, we’ll manage to leave China behind and rank second. To this end, we need to win over 80 medals,” Mr Tyagachev stated. His deputy Vladimir Vassin agrees with him. He calculated that, “to rank first, we need to win 35-40 gold medals, and 110-115 medals in total.” In the view of Mr Tyagachev, it’s most probable that Russia will get on the podium in boxing, athletics, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, shooting and fencing. The sports officials refused to give more precise prognoses. It need be reminded that in Athens Russia won 92 medals (27 golden, 27 silver and 38 bronze) ranking third after China and the USA.
According to Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Sports Minister, the state allocated over 12 billion roubles for the preparation for the Olympics (the sum doesn’t include possible fees to future medal winners). By the way, this year the fees were increased and nominated in euros: athletes will get ?100.000 for the gold, ?60.000 for the silver, and ?40.000 for the bronze. In Turin they got $100.000 for the gold, $50.000 for the silver and $20.000 for the bronze. Besides, businessmen, sports federations heads and chiefs of the Russian regions announced rewards for those showing the best results. For example, the authorities of the Nizhny Novgorod region promised to give an apartment to every compatriot winning the Olympics. The authorities of St.-Petersburg will pay 800.000, 480.000 and 320.000 correspondingly, and those in Volgograd – 1.9, 1.7 and 1.5 million roubles. Russian businessman Suleyman Kerimov, who is head of the Council under the Federation of Wrestling, promised to award wrestling champions $1 million. He only laid down one condition: the wrestlers must get at least 10 golden medals out of the 18 possible. If the number is smaller, Mr Kerimov will pay $500.000. President of the Federation of Swimming, chief of the Presidential Administration Sergey Naryshkin stated that swimmers will get $50.000, $30.000 and $15.000 correspondingly. The National Foundation for the Development of Badminton announced the same figures. Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim group will give all medal winners from the CSKA club 3, 1.5 and 1 million roubles; their coaches will get 1 million, 500.000 and 300.000 roubles. However, you can’t rule out that in case the Russian athletes triumph, the number of those willing to take part in money dispensing can grow sufficiently.