Medvedev furious at Olympic failure

President calls for coaches to quit after Russia limps to worst ever medals tally

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russian Olympic officials to resign or be fired yesterday and demanded drastic changes to training procedures after a poor showing at the Winter Games dented national pride.

Once-mighty Russia limped in 11th in the medals table with just three golds, its worst ever tally. The result was especially embarrassing because Russia is due to host the next Winter Olympics in 2014 at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"Those responsible should take the brave decision and sign a letter [of resignation]," the President said in televised comments. "If they can't we will help them."

"We must drastically change the training of our athletes, judging by what has happened in Vancouver," he said, complaining at what he described as colossal spending before the Games. "The athlete, not federations, those fat cats, must be given priority."

At the Turin games in 2006, Russia was in the top five, with 22 medals, including eight golds, demonstrating a continuation of the sporting prowess that the Soviet Union had developed to symbolise its superpower vitality.

"For a long time we have benefited from Soviet achievements. At some point they ran out. We have lost the Soviet sports school, it is simply gone, but we have not formed our own system," Mr Medvedev said.

Russians who stayed up all night to watch the Games had their hopes crushed when their ice hockey team lost in the quarter finals and the renowned figure skating team failed to win a single gold.

"It's very upsetting, especially as our patriotism has been linked to sporting achievements," said Olga, a sports fan who works for a Moscow marketing organisation. "There are so many questions, about where the training money went, about what will happen in Sochi, but not many answers."

Opposition politicians had already demanded resignations and the media raised doubts about Russia's preparedness to stage the Sochi games and the ability of its athletes to use the home advantage to triumph. "In order to avoid a national disgrace, you could relocate the Olympic Games to another country," wrote one analyst in the daily Vremya Novostei.

State-controlled broadcasters led their main Sunday evening bulletins with reports highlighting the poor training facilities for athletes and echoed earlier comments from the country's paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"Of course we expected more from our team," Mr Putin said, while the games were nearing their close on Friday. "But that's not cause to throw up our hands, wear a sackcloth and ashes or beat ourselves with chains."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food