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."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'