President Dmitry Medvedev called Monday for officials in charge of preparing Russian athletes for the Winter Olympics to resign after the country suffered its worst-ever performance in Vancouver.
Russia, long accustomed to boosting national pride with sporting success, was left scrambling for explanations for its dismal Olympics performance just four years before it hosts the Winter Games.
The Russian squad recorded its worst ever performance in Vancouver, finishing 11th in the Game’ medal table and clinching only three gold medals and 15 overall.
For a country used since Soviet times to one champion after another stepping onto the top of the medal rostrum to the rousing strains of the national anthem, the failure has been nothing short of a trauma.
The team’s performance showed up the failure of Russia to replace the all-conquering Soviet sports system with a modern equivalent and the cost of so many top coaches emigrating abroad over the past two decades.
“We need to start from the very beginning,” said one of Russia’s most celebrated post-Soviet Olympians, swimming legend Alexander Popov, who won four Olympic gold medals.