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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

RUSSIA’S PAST AND PRESENT HEROES - MOSCOW 2013

There is little more than six weeks to go before the start of the IAAF World Championships, Moscow, Russia, which take place from Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 August, and the current generation of Russian athletics heroes is sure to enthral the crowds in the Luzhniki stadium. However, Russian athletes already have a proud place in the history of our sport, stretching back well over a century. The first Russian athletics meeting that resembled an event we might recognise in the modern era took place in St Petersburg in 1867, just a few years after the sport started to draw crowds in parts of Western Europe and North America Nina Romashkova, better known under her married name of Ponomaryova, won Russia’s first athletics gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1952, a title she was to regain eight years later. The following decade it was the turn of high jumper Valery Brumel and the Press sisters, Irina and Tamara, to make their mark internationally. In the wake of Moscow staging the 1980 Olympic Games, the first IAAF World Championships were held three years later and part of the Soviet team were Russians of renown like hammer thrower Sergey Litvinov and high jumper Tamara Bykova, who both set world records in their events and were to triumph in Helsinki. As athletics entered a new millennium, new stars emerged. Few can deny that Yelena Isinbayeva has left her indelible stamp on the Pole Vault while Yuriy Borzakovskiy showed that 800m titles can be won by European runners. Both athletes are expected to still be part of the Russian team at this summer’s World Championships. The 2013 World Championships’ host Russia has its athletics heroes, both old and new, as the countdown continues to the start of the greatest sporting event of 2013.