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13 Apr 2018

Belarus president highlights problems in winter sports

Belarus president highlights problems in winter sports

MINSK, 13 April (BelTA) – We need to take stock of the development of winter sports in the country in an principle manner, taking into account the results of the previous Olympics, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at a session held on 12 to discuss the development of winter sports, BelTA has learned.

The head of state touched upon the situation in various winter sports and raised specific issues.

Ice hockey

“Despite the unprecedented conditions created for this sport in the country, the national  team failed to qualify for the Olympics. They failed the second consecutive qualification, losing to Slovenia. You do remember that disgrace match at home, in Minsk. Our team finished the last World Championships in Paris on the brink of being relegated from the top division,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko compared the ice hockey teams of Belarus and Germany. “Not long ago, two to three years back, nobody took Germany into account. Look at Germany today and our team today. You will complain again that some things were lacking in the training? Can we pick up 20 people out of ten million  who could play well and who could qualify for the Olympics. This sport has a high profile. A lot has been done for its development in the country,” the president said.

He drew attention to the fact that nearly 40 hockey arenas have been built across the country. “When comparing with the 2002 that was most successful year for us,  the number of hockey players more than doubled; the number of full-time coaches has increased almost three times. But still there are no results. More precisely, we have the results which I wish we did not. The prospects are bleak. But we shall see. The world championship is round the corder,”  the Belarusian leader said.

On biathlon and cross-country skiing

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian men’s biathlon team produced disappointing results at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. “Sometimes it was embarrassing to watch our men run with rifles. I wanted to hide away from shame,” the head of state said. “There is no one to replace Domracheva and Skardino. If anyone regards the performance of the women’s biathlon team as a success, I would rather they woke up and took a reality check of the results of our biathletes in general and the women’s team, in particular,” he added.

“In fact, our Olympic gold medals were rather accidental. All of them. But this is sport. If there are results, one cannot say anything. We need to identify the problems that we have regardless of these results. This refers to the preparation, the athletes, and the coaches themselves,” Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

“The results in cross-country skiing are a far cry from our aspirations, although this is the basic sport for biathlon. These are probably the worst results ever,” the president remarked.

On speed skating

“We have made a step forward in speed skating. You said that our athletes had made it to the top 8 three times. Once again, there is no point in taking part in the Olympics just to reach the top 8. The positive thing is that our young athletes have gained experience and will pick up medals at future Olympics,” the head of state noted.

He paid attention to short track speed skating, the sport that awards many medals. “Surprisingly enough, there are few places in Belarus that give an opportunity to go into this sport,” Alexander Lukashenko added.

On figure skating

“There are no results at all, although there are over 1,000 athletes being trained in our sports schools,” the president said.

“Everyone is waiting for something. Perhaps, you are waiting for the president to go to Russia and invite a couple of coaches or at least one, who will come and train a new Medvedeva [Russian figure skater Evgeniya Medvedeva],” the Belarusian leader said.

On freestyle skiing

The head of state said that Belarus is one of the world’s top leaders in the aerials. There was every chance to win more medals at the recent Olympic Games in South Korea. “It did not happen, though. The fault is not only with the athletes. There are concerns over the objectivity of the judges. There are also concerns over the approaches of the coaches,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“It would be very sad if someone started thinking too much of themselves in the aerials,” he stressed.

On Alpine skiing and snowboarding

The president was also interested in the prospects of developing Alpine skiing and snowboarding in Belarus. “What hinders you making progress here? OK, there is a huge gap in the Alpine skiing traditions in our country. But still there are opportunities to develop snowboarding. This sport is trained in our sports schools and gets public financing as well. Where are the returns?” the head of state wondered.

On creating a pool of athletes

“My major question to the leadership of the entire sports sector and, first of all, sports federations is how are things with a pool of athletes. Who will represent Belarus tomorrow? What are the country’s prospects in winter sports?” Alexander Lukashenko said.

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