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Russians unprepared for 2010 Winter Olympics - sports official


MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russian athletes face an uphill struggle to prepare fully for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, a vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.

Vladimir Vasin told members of the Russian upper house that the problems with winter sports had emerged in the 1990s and that until recently there had been no financial allocations from the budget to develop infrastructure.

"[In the past] our country only had snow to train athletes, but we do not even have this privilege anymore," Vasin said, referring to recent unusually warm weather.

He also said that besides infrastructure development, Russia should also look to involve foreign specialists in the training of its athletes.

However, Gennady Alyoshin, a deputy head of the Russian Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy Ministry, said that Russia had every chance of taking up to six gold medals in Vancouver.

"We have the potential and we will realize it," Alyoshin said, adding that the financial rewards for medals had seen a 200% increase in comparison with the 2006 Winter Olympics.

He said that the athletes would be paid 100,000 euros for each gold medal, 60,000 for silver and 40,000 for bronze.

At the 2006 Turin Games, Russia won 22 medals, including 8 gold, taking fourth place in the overall medals standings.

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