SOCHI, February 19. /ITAR-TASS/. The failure of Russian ice hockey players in the game against Finland cannot ruin the efforts of the national team at the Sochi Olympics, Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko said.
Russia lost 1:3 to Finland on Wednesday, February 19.
“Our ice hockey team hoped for more, and that’s understandable,” Mutko told Itar-Tass. “But these are Olympic Games, not world championships. Athletes compete for medals in 15 sports. The Games are going on and we must support our athletes. There are many heroes on our team but they are simply less known than ice hockey players or biathletes.”
“Zinetula Bilyaletdinov assumed responsibility as coach, and we can understand that. But it’s not quite right because hockey is a team game,” the minister said.
Replying to the Itar-Tass correspondent’s remark that ice hockey is becoming a more individual kind of sport than a team one, Mutko said, “This sport is evolving, it does not stand still. The generation of Malkin and Ovechkin, who by the way will go soon, is the best we have. If we do not understand within ourselves where we are going, we won’t win anything for a long time.”
The minister said he was upset by the Russian ice hockey team’s defeat. “Ice hockey and biathlon are favourable sports in our country. Of course I was upset. But let us admit that we are all working ourselves up a bit. It hurts when we lose, but we should not forget the rest of our Olympic team. Look at how hard the athletes are trying… they also deserve to be supported,” he said.