The President presented state decorations – the Order for Services to the Fatherland, the Order of Honour, the Order of Friendship, and the medal of Order for Services to the Fatherland to 48 athletes and their coaches.
Russia’s national Olympic team came in fourth place in the overall team ranking with a total of 82 medals – 24 gold, 26 silver, and 32 bronze.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
First of all, I offer you my sincerest and warmest congratulations on your successful performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. On behalf of all Russian fans, I thank you for this performance and for our country’s success at the Olympics.
Your achievements, as you know well, I imagine, have filled the hearts of our millions of fans with pride in their country and pride in our athletes, who have conquered the most difficult summits. You are an inspiration to millions of fans, not just those who play sport, but also those who simply love sport and take pleasure in following our athletes’ achievements.
And indeed, how could our Olympic volleyball team’s final match leave anyone indifferent? The players showed true spirit. I called the team’s coach to congratulate him and all of the team. I heard how he was instructing them during the match, making some critical remarks at moments, but the match truly was a magnificent event, simply wonderful. This applies to our entire Olympic team’s performance really.
We were enthralled by the courage our martial artists, boxers and wrestlers showed, the drive and speed of our track and field athletes, and the grace and beauty of our synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics teams, whose performances once again gave the world a truly spellbinding display. This is no exaggeration.
If you look at the results, it is true that we were in third place overall in the Beijing Olympics, but in terms of numbers of medals won we did better in London than in Beijing. The medal tally shows this: in London we won 24 gold medals compared to 23 in Beijing; 26 silver medals in London compared to 21 in Beijing; and 32 bronze medals in London compared to 28 in Beijing. Overall, we won 10 more medals in London than in Beijing. This is most certainly a success and an improvement in our result.
Of course, I know that many of you pay a lot of attention to mass sport. The state authorities, sports organisers, and sportspeople themselves all talk about the need to develop mass sport in our country, seeing as it provides the soil that feeds top-level sport too. This is certainly the case. I therefore have a big favour to ask of you. I ask that all of you, at least those who can, go on September 1 to schools in your home regions, in the places from where you and your coaches have come, or the places where you trained or are training now. I am sure that, for our schoolchildren, it would be interesting, useful, and a great pleasure to meet their heroes in person.
There is another very important area in mass sport – university sport. This has long been the case here and in many other countries. University sport provides the direct support base for top-level sport, and so this is an area that also needs our attention. I plan to meet soon, this coming autumn, with student sport organisers and the team heads and coaches. I ask you to give this area your attention too.
Overall, I want to say once more that you achieved a good result, and I congratulate you on this.
I want to say some words in particular to the coaches, to all of those who spent these long years developing and polishing our athletes’ talents and leading you to triumph. Colleagues, you can take a lot of the credit for your students’ successes. You have invested your effort, knowledge, wisdom and patience in paving your students’ road to success and have made a sterling contribution to our Olympic team’s victories.
It is true that we did not achieve all of our objectives at these Olympics, but then again, it will probably never happen that we can achieve everything we want. This is also because you yourselves, the coaches and the sports organisers always set the mark as high as possible.
This is right: we need to set ambitious goals, the most ambitious goals, and then we will almost always be sure of success, even if we do not achieve some of our declared objectives. Whatever the case, it is right to aim as high as possible.
I want to note in particular that for 33 of our athletes this was their first Olympics and they came away with gold medals. Indeed, almost all of our first-time participants put on a good showing. This is visible proof that our country’s top-level sport, after going through a difficult time a decade ago, along with the whole country, is now gathering strength once more, and that all of the effort we have made over these last years to prepare our athletes is starting to bear positive results.
Friends, you represented Russia with honour at this year’s main international sports event and deserve not just your Olympic medals but also our high state decorations. This is our longstanding tradition and it is the deserved assessment of your effort and, of course, a special sign of recognition from all sports lovers in Russia.
Once again, I thank you for your victories and I wish you new successes and all the very best.
I congratulate you once more on your achievements and on these state decorations. I wish you long sports careers, happiness, success, and good health. Thank you very much.