President Medvedev sees Russian athletes off to Beijing

In his view, - those who are going to defend the honor of Russia in Beijing have already proven they are worth international recognition. And there is a good reason to expect them to score impressive victories, Medvedev said, because many Olympic records have been set by them. Quite a few awards have been won by Russian sportsmen in the past few years. And, although he refrained from predicting the outcome of the Beijing games, Medvedev said he would root for the national team and hope it did well. He assured the Russian athletes of his support and said they would surely demonstrate what sports really meant, in Beijing.

The Beijing games are due to begin within a few days. Russia is sending one of the most numerous delegations to that city. Russian champions of Europe, the world and previous Olympic games are going there. They will compete for 244 of the 302 sets of Olympic awards. What they really hope to win is boxing, wrestling, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, field and track, weight-lifting, and fencing events, as well as the tennis, volleyball, and basketball tournaments. Because Russia did very well in the previous - Athens - games, the Olympic Committee expects its team count to be one of the three highest in Beijing. As many as 457 Russian sportsmen took part in the Athens games. They competed in 38 sports, winning Olympic medals in 24 and gold medals in 13 of these. They won 27 gold, 27 silver, and 38 bronze medals in Athens.

It is the captain of the men's basketball team Andrei Kirilenko who will carry the colors of Russia at the opening ceremony. The 5,000 Russian fans will be led by prime minister Vladimir Putin. The opening has been scheduled for 8:8:8 of August 8. The 29th Olympic games will open at the main stadium of Beijing.

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