Day four of the London Olympics has been marked by three medals for Russia… that’s 2 silver and a bronze… Our athletes did have the potential to win more medals on that day but the Olympians stopped just short of the podium. And speaking of the medals that Russia won on Tuesday… well those could be of a higher value as well. But let’s take it a gong at a time and start with the silver… we will later bring you Russia’s overall medal count and standings as well.
So let’s start with gymnastics…
First award for Russia was won in artistic gymnastics which is certainly an essential progress in comparison with Beijing Games where national women’s squad left the tournament empty-handed.
Alexander Alexandrov’s girls finished second right behind the USA who were flawless on Tuesday. Bronze went to Romania and finally the defending Olympic champions from China settled for a disappointing 4th place.
American girls were named the favourites of the team final and they confirmed their status by hitting all 12 routines. US gymnasts were the only one who didn’t fall or even stumble on any of their elements and deservingly got the most prestigious title in artistic gymnastics.
Unfortunately Russian girls didn’t cope with their nervousness and committed minor mistakes on vault and a beam, and floor exercise appeared to be a nightmare for the national squad as Anastasia Grishina struggled with her first pass and didn’t do all of the elements of her second one.
She just stopped in the middle of her second acrobatic diagonal and failed to complete it. Russia’s seasoned veteran Ksenia Afanasyeva also failed to withstand Olympic pressure and landed on her knees in the end of the floor routine.
But, I see a positive moment here, for her unimpressive floor exercise where Afanasyeva fell she got 14. 300 points. Taking into accounted that one point was deducted for this drastic mistake we may assume that Afnasyeva may receive 15.300 or even 15.400 points in case she delivers clean performance in the final. And of course this sum will allow her to fight for gold in this gymnastics discipline. And I would like to remind all of our listeners that Ksenia Afanasyeva is the reigning world floor champion.
Of course Russian girls were a little bit upset by the silver, but let’s face the truth American gymnasts were stronger in 3 out of 4 events and even if the Russians had coped with floor routines they wouldn’t have cut a 1.3 point deficit that separated them from the USA.
So, silver is also a nice achievement at the Olympics and this was the first medal, 5 more awards will be contested at this summer Games and Russian girls will participate in all 5 finals. On Thursday ladies will determine the strongest all-arounder and let’s not forget that Russian star Victoria Komova prevailed in qualification.
2010 all-around world champion Aliya Mustafina will be the second Russian gymnast who will compete for the all-around title. Well actually all of the pundits are so absorbed by the upcoming battle between Komova and two Americans Douglas and Raisman that they forgot about Aliya Mustafina who might be a surprise winner of this event.
But we should admit that Aliya will be able to do that only on condition she throws an Amanar vault in the final. Will she do that or not, we will find out on Thursday, but keep your eyes on Mustafina she can go out of the shadow of the three favourites.
Congratulations to the Russian girls who even with two major bloopers on floor outscored their principle archrivals from Romania and China. By the way this silver finish has become Russia’s best Olympic accomplishment in women’s team event since the Sydney Games, where national gymnasts also took second place. In Athens Russian ladies earned bronze and in Beijing they missed the podium finishing 4th .
A fierce battle for men’s all-around title will break out on Wednesday. We will keep our fingers crossed for David Belyavskiy and Emin Garibov who will represent Russia in the final. Just a reminder Belyavskiy showed second best result in qualification which makes us believe he can battle for podium places at this Olympic tournament.
Good luck to both Russian gymnasts and of course we will cover men’s individual all-around in our next edition of Russian Sports daily.
Russian quarter of Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova confidently stepped into the round of last 16 of the Olympic tennis tournament in London.
We reported in our previous program that Vera Zvonareva outplayed Francesca Schiavone of Italy on her way to the third round where she will face off a dangerous opponent from the USA – Serena Williams.
Nadia Petrova who had a tough meeting with Anna Tatishivilli from Georgia will also be up against serious rival – the world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. Petrova took a hard fought victory over her less experienced opponent Tatishivilli 6-3 6-7 6-2 and advanced to the 4th round where she will have to display her best tennis to beat the 2012 Auatralian Open winner – Azarenka.
Maria Kirilenko established a solid victory of the British player Heather Watson who was emotionally supported by the home crowd. Kirilenko didn’t pay much attention to the spaectators and did what she was expected to do – smashed her counterpart in two straight sets 6-3 6-2. Kirilenko progresses into the round of last 16 where a well-known German athlete Julia Goerges is waiting for her.
And finally Russian flag carrier Maria Sharapova joined the rest of her teammates wgo successfully reached the next phase of the Olympic tournament by winning a match against another hostess of the court – Laura Robson 7-6 6-3.
Curiously enough their first meeting that took place at Wimbledon two years ago ended with identical score 7-6 6-2. So this solid victory allowed Maria Sharapova to be among 16 best tennis players at the Olympics but of course we hope that four time Grand Slam title holder will not stop on what she has already achieved and will concentrate her efforts on reaching the final.
But in order to do that the leader of the national team Maria Sharapova will have to pay Sabine Lisicki back for her early exit form this year’s Wimbledon championship. So, we will see a rematch of the Wimbledon round of last 8 between Maria Sharapova and Sabine Lisicki of Germany. A quick reminder several weeks ago the gifted German player knocked Maria out of the most prestigious tournament on grass. Bit hopefully this time around Russia’s tennis star will not experience problems with her serve and will book a spot in the quarterfinal.
Let’s talk about men’s tournament where unfortunately last representative of Russia Nikolai Davydenko couldn’t overcome the second round barrier as he surprisingly lost to a Japanese national Kei Nisikori 4-6 6-4 6-1.
Also in doubles Davydenko and Yuzhniy failed to create a sensation and fell victim to the first ranked American couple Bob Brian and Mike Brian. 7-6 7-6.
As we’ve touched upon the topic of doibles let’s also mention the great victory taken by the Russian duet of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina who destroyed their German rivals Julia Georges and Anna-Lena Grenefeld 6-2 6-1. Russia’s next opponents will be Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond of the USA.
Also team’s captain Shamil Tarpishev has decided on the four players who will represent Russia in mixed- an event that is making an Olympic debut in London. So, defending country’s prestige will be Mikhail Yuzhniy and Elena Vesnina along with Dmitry Tursunov and Nadia Petrova.
On to weightlifting now where Russia claimed their first Olympic medal of the ongoing Games. Though it was silver, it was still great to see one of Russia’s athletes, finally climb on the podium in this event. So to the details now, the medal came in women’s under 63kg weight category thanks to the efforts of a 24 year old Russian from the country’s republic of North Ossetia Svetlana Tsarukaeva.
Though she claimed eventual Olympic silver, Tsarukaeva led at the break thanks to a snatch of 112kg. However, the clean and jerk portion of the competition saw her lift only 125 kilos for a total of 237K and a second place finish.
Top gong in women’s under 63K class went to Kazakhstan’s Maia Maneza who lifted a total of 245 kilograms. And that gold became twice as sweet for the winner because the result was enough for an Olympic record. And the bronze in women’s under 63k weightlifting went to Canada's Christine Girard who lifted a total of 236kg.
Moving on to Russia’s third and final medal of the fourth day of the London Olympics which once again came in Judo. Ivan Nifontov adding a bronze medal to Russia’s two gold which were claimed in the previous two days.
Standing in his way to the final of the 81kg division was the eventual Olympic champion, South Korean Kim Jae-Bum. That bout ended in favour of the Asian judoka who won by a single Wazari. Nifontov was only able to produce a Yuca… and that 1 point was obviously not enough to make it to the penultimate stage.
Yes, but fortunately, Ivan Nifontov managed to recover from that semifinal loss and ousted Japan’s Takahiro Nakai for the bronze. And he did it in style as well by finishing things early with two wazaris which equal an ippon… or if you are not familiar with Judo terms… an ippon is something like a knockout in boxing.
Gold in men’s 81kilo division went to South Korean Kim Jae-Bum while silver went to German Ole Bischof… By the way, the two athletes met in the final of the Beijing Games four years ago where the German was stronger… so their stand-off in London was probably more like a rematch… and to the delight of the South Korean fans, the result was mirrored this time around.
So, once again, the 25-year-old Russian Ivan Nifontov added a bronze to Russia’s two golds at the London Olympics that were won by Arsen Galstyan in the 60 kg class and Mansur Isaev in the 73K. Russia now tops the Olympic medal standings in Judo with 6 events still on the schedule. And of course, hopefully Russia will be able to continue their fine run of form.