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MOSCOW, March 06, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped for the victory of Russian Paralympic athletes at the Winter Paralympic Games in Russia’s Sochi.
“We hope for their victory. The athletes are ready. Now it is up for their good luck and support of fans,” Putin said in an interview with Russian and foreign media.
He however noted that “thinking ahead is a thankless job, especially in sports, where the role of chance is too high.”
“But still, Russia does have grounds to believe in the victory of its Paralympic team,” the president stressed. “They took the first position in the last season’s unofficial team standing well ahead of their closest rivals.”
“Russia’s Paralympic team has always gratified the fans,” he noted. “Suffice it to recall the latest winter Paralympics: Turin in 2006, where in was the first in the team standing, and Vancouver in 2010, where it was second in terms of gold medals and the best in terms of the overall number of medals.”
Putin recalled that the Russian Paralympic team of 31 athletes took part only in three out of five disciplines at the Games in Vancouver. “By the Sochi Paralympics, we have a team of 64 athletes who will compete in all six disciplines for 72 sets of medals. These disciplines are biathlon, alpine skiing, wheelchair curling, cross country skiing, sledge hockey and parasnowbord, a new discipline in the programme of the Paralympic Winter Games,” he said.
The president promised worthy rewards to Paralympic medalists. “Before 2008, Paralympic and SurdOlympic athletes received smaller sums than Olympic athletes. Now, everything is fair: athletes representing Russia at Olympic, Paralympic and SurdOlympic Games are granted equal bonuses: four million roubles (about 110,780 U.S. dollars) - for a gold medal, 2.5 million roubles (69,237 U.S. dollars) - for a silver medal, and 1.7 million roubles (47,081 U.S. dollars) - for a bronze medal,” he said, adding that it was a common practice in the world to offer state support to Paralympic athletes. Russia was no exception, he noted. Thus, the number of monthly presidential grants was increased from 500 to 700, and the amount of such grants was raised from 15,000 (415 U.S. dollars) to 32,000 roubles (886 U.S. dollars). At the same time, he expressed the hope that more financing for the Paralympic teams would come from businessmen and public organizations.
According to the Russian president, people are impressed by the achievements of Paralympic athletes, “by their personal courage, commitment and incredible fortitude and will.”
“There are lots of examples when healthy, successful people lose heart and give up having faced with inconsiderable rubs and worries of life. But the story of each Paralympic athlete is the story of the victory over oneself, over one’s disease, over the hardest trials. And it cannot leave people cold,” Putin said.