Vladimir Putin presented state decorations to Kamila Valiyeva, Alexander Gallyamov, Nikita Katsalapov, Mark Kondratyuk, Anastasia Mishina, Viktoria Sinitsina, Denis Spitsov, Veronika Stepanova and Alexei Chervotkin.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
I am delighted to see you, to be able to congratulate you on your brilliant performance at the XXIV Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and to present state decorations to you. You have won them with your talent, hard work, skill and dedication to sports and its values and ideals.
It is not an overstatement to say that your brilliant resolute wins and the victories of all our Olympians, the Russian athletes, have become the real gems of the Winter Olympics. Fans not only in Russia but throughout the world admired and rejoiced at your performances.
You have proved once again that you are among the best athletes in the world. Russia has held absolute leadership in women’s single figure skating for the third Olympics. The strikingly beautiful virtuoso skating by our young ladies, with Anna Shcherbakova at the top, has been an unreachable summit for their rivals. This is really so. We have heard the words your rivals used, and they are true.
Russia has won yet another gold in the team figure skating event. Technically difficult and very impressive performances of Alexander Gallyamov and Anastasia Mishina, Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, Mark Kondratyuk and Kamila Valiyeva struck a chord with the fans and judges. Thankfully, the judging was stable and impartial in this context.
Of course, the whole of Russia and figure skating fans all over the world were particularly rooting for Kamila. Her talent has soaked up all the most difficult elements of figure skating, its flexibility, beauty, power and tenderness. Through her hard work, she has elevated the sport to true art. It is impossible to reach this level of perfection by dishonest means, with the help of additional methods or manipulations. Moreover, there is no need for all these additional means or methods in figure skating – all of us understand and know this full well. For the time being, let us wish Kamila many happy returns of the day: she is celebrating her birthday today. I will have an opportunity to do this again in an informal setting.
Russian skiers have also achieved outstanding successes. Here I will primarily note the long-awaited skiing relay victories. As is common knowledge, the last time a [Russian] women’s cross-country skiing team won the title of champion was in 2006, and a men’s team – in 1980. And we have not seen a simultaneous victory by the relay teams, male and female, for precisely 50 years. This is certainly a great achievement.
The confident and powerful performance by our ladies – Yulia Stupak, Tatyana Sorina, Natalya Nepryayeva and Veronika Stepanova – has become a big present to our fans. More than that, Veronika Stepanova turned out to be the youngest cross-country skiing champion in Olympic history. The men – Sergei Ustyugov, Alexei Chervotkin, Denis Spitsov and Alexander Bolshunov – have shown their worth in a no less brilliant manner. Their performance was daring – daring in the best sense of the word. Let me note that Alexander Bolshunov gathered a large collection of Olympic awards in Beijing: three gold medals, a silver medal, a bronze medal, and the absolutely deserved symbolic title of “the king of skis.” Everyone knows this well, and I have an opportunity to congratulate him.
I congratulate once again all of you who are present here on your convincing victories, and, of course, I wish you new successes. You will certainly achieve them.
Congratulations. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Let me once again congratulate you on your state decorations. One of the recipients has just said that the necessary conditions were created for you, but it is our duty, the duty of any state and officials in charge of organising work in the field of sports to do this.
Of course, the credit goes to your hard work. Hard work, talent and commitment of you and your coaches – you are the real heroes here. Your success is essential for the country and, in fact, for every Russian, I believe. You know this, but I would like to stress it once again.
Thank you very much. I wish you success and congratulate you.