Honour, glory, gold medals - and a $146,500 Mercedes for Russia's Olympic champions

The country's top athletes were also given $120,000 (£71,718) in cash

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For some, the achievement alone is enough - but for Russia's top athletes, returning home from the Sochi Games will be made all the sweeter in a new set of wheels worth $146,500.

The country may be in the grip of a political crisis, but celebrations for the Russian athletes who won gold medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics continue apace - including the presentation of $120,000 (£71,718) in cash and 45 new cars for its biggest and brightest stars.

At a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, 13 gold medallists each received the keys to a Mercedes GL-Class SUV worth $146,500 (£87,604), Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The country's 11 silver medallists were each presented with a Mercedes ML-Class, worth $99,500 (£59,502)- and all of the nine bronze medalists took home a Mercedes GLK-Class, worth $59,500 (£35,581).

And that wasn't all - each of the competitors also received $120,000 (£71,718) in cash.

Yet some athletes may get more use out of the vehicles than others. Yulia Lipnitskaya, who was lauded for her contribution to the Russian team figure skating gold medal, is only 15 - and too young to legally take her prize out for a spin.

When Mr Medvedev asked her who would drive the car, as legal driving age in Russia is 18, she said that "her mother would", RIA Novosti reported.

The cars were provided by the Russian Olympians Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation set up by a group of businessmen in 2005. In 2012, athletes who received medals in the London Olympic Games were each given a brand new Audi, complete with a personal driver.

The host nation emerged as the victor of the games, with a haul of 13 golds and 33 overall medals - the best the country has ever had during the Winter Olympics.

The country’s previous best gold haul was in 1994 in Norway’s Lillehammer, when the national team won 11 gold medals.