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Shaman magic disappoints as Russian divers train for Olympics place

February 20, 16:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
he Tibetan wonder-worker was tasked to help get the team used to Brazil’s climate
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© Sergei Savostianov/TASS

MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. Hopes are fading for a Russian diving squad’s place in the summer Rio Olympics - poor performance apparently ruling them out in qualifiers despite the efforts of a holy shaman said called in to "blow the candles" and help them prepare.

"I’ve no idea who invited him - better ask the coaches," Diving Federation vice president Gleb Galperin told TASS on Saturday.

The Tibetan wonder-worker was tasked to help get the team used to Brazil’s climate. But hitting the water at World Diving Championships in Rio - final qualifiers for the 2016 Summer Games - hasn’t delivered the desired result.

Russia’s team, diving between February 19 and 24, has been ranked only seventh, not enough to take part in the Olympics.

"There may be preparations for such an important event as the world championships, but we have a shaman," Galperin said.

"We are living in the 21st century. It is ridiculous when they invite to the national team a person of no special qualification. I do not understand and support the idea," he said, noting that the holy man was hired six months ago and proving the team had problems.

It would be better if the team had invited foreign specialists to improve their acrobatics, add some exercises, Galperin said.

"Nothing shameful to employ a foreign expert," he said. "Anyway, better than a shaman blowing the candles and the team wins."

Russian divers Ilya Zakharov and Yevgeny Kuznetsov, silver winners in diving competitions at the 2015 Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, ranked only 11th in the three-meter springboard in this year’s Rio qualifiers.

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