Russians can win medals in almost all Olympic events: Zhukov
Moscow, July 21 (IANS) Russian athletes can aspire to bag medals in almost all the disciplines at the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Russian National Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov has asserted.
"The average athlete on our Olympic team is 26.5 years old and the team includes Olympic champions and first-timers likewise," he told reporters on Wednesday. "We have a strong team and our athletes can get medals in virtually all the disciplines."
Zhukov added that Russian medallists at the 2016 Olympic Games will be awarded state bonuses that will match those of the winners of the 2012 Olympics in London, reports TASS.
"Bonuses from the state to the medallists will remain the same," Zhukov said.
The 2016 Olympics top medal winners will receive four million rubles ($62,852), silver medallists can expect 2.7 million rubles ($42,425) and bronze medallists 1.7 million rubles ($26,712) from the state. The payments were the same at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
The Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21. The Russian team has 467 athletes, the country's smallest contingent to the Olympics since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
According to Zhukov, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva voiced a strong argument in favor of Russian athletes at a hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.
"Yelena Isinbayeva, who represented Russia in court, asked quite rightly who would protect her rights as a 'clean' athlete who has never been taking doping. She has been tested by anti-doping officials, who were not Russians, dozen times recently," Zhukov said.
"And in this case who will protect her rights if she is banned from the Olympics? It seems to me it is a very strong argument in favor of our track and field athletes' participation in the Olympics.
"In the meantime, the IOC, WADA and other international organisations speak out for the protection of 'clean' athletes' rights. And it is right. Nevertheless, who will defend the rights of Isinbayeva among others?" he asked rhetorically.