By Veniamin Khmilevsky
Mr. Lukashenko especially praised marksman Sergey Martynov’s success; he confidently defeated his rivals and set two world records. The President additionally highlighted the success of Victoria Azarenko and Maxim Mirny. “Their achievement is all the more notable for having defeated their hosts at Wimbledon!” believes the Head of State, noting, “Alexandra Gerasimenya also achieved brilliant success. Until her result, sovereign Belarus had never won an Olympic medal in swimming; now, we have two silvers!”
Mr. Lukashenko thanked all the athletes who did their best, setting high goals and achieving brilliant results. He also thanked the coaches and all those who led the sportsmen to triumph. “I should stress that we followed every athlete closely. The Olympics are a special competition, requiring huge concentration and psychological endurance,” he said, expressing his gratitude to all the champions and medal winners of the London Olympics.
He noted that some of the tasks set failed to be realised by the Belarusian team, “Sadly, not all managed to cope with the tension and tough rivalry. To be honest, some even refused to take part in the Olympics.” Mr. Lukashenko stated that Belarus had ‘fallen’ compared to previous Olympic Games in its number of medals won, with some sports showing quite dismal results. The President promised to seriously discuss this after conducting detailed analysis of the Belarusian Olympic participants’ performance. “The Olympics in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro lie ahead, so we need to demonstrate bravery in admitting mistakes, while taking into consideration our experience, working selflessly and with determination towards future success,” he added.
Mr. Lukashenko awarded the Olympic Games prize holders and coaches with state awards, while granting honourable titles and announcing the gratitude of the President of Belarus. Additionally, detailed discussions took place regarding how best to enhance sports results. Goals for the state and sportsmen were outlined, creating a prelude to a major future meeting, to be attended by the President. “Foremost, we’ll make a serious study of how best to develop our sports, asking those who failed why they think this happened. We’re in no hurry. I’ve been told today that performance analysis is close to completion. You should know that tough measures will be taken,” Mr. Lukashenko said.
Twice Olympic silver swim medallist Alexandra Gerasimenya believes that many sports — including swimming — lack expert managers able to nurture youngsters through years of training towards supreme achievements. Accordingly, reserves are becoming weaker, with fewer young talents able to replace famous sportsmen. Alexandra asked the Head of State to help find a worthy candidate to chair the Swimming Federation, able to raise the level of the sport. Mr. Lukashenko unexpectedly settled the issue, suggesting Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik for the post.“He has the resources to attract anyone and he is a man, who is the first in the Government and the country to be responsible for sports development,” he said.
The President stressed that the issue of executive staff in sport must be dealt with seriously, by assessing their achievements to date. “I’ve always warned that the time will come when you’ll need to report on results. You should keep in mind, as I announce publically today, that there will be no easy money in sport anymore. This will come only if results are shown. If you perform well, then you’ll receive money,” stated Mr. Lukashenko. As an example, he mentioned the rhythmic gymnastics, for which Belarus regularly wins medals at various competitions. “They deserve to have their own venue, so it will be constructed for them. An order has been made and a site chosen, so that all forms of gymnastics can enjoy the best conditions,” he added.
Mr. Lukashenko noted that his role as President is to create good conditions for sportsmen, allowing them to train effectively at home rather than abroad. In fact, many leading foreign sportsmen and champions choose Belarus as their training venue. “We may not enjoy the same facilities as America or China but we have everything we need to perform better than in previous years,” stressed the Head of State. He believes that we must re-consider how best to inspire coaches — including those tasked with finding and training talented children. “We should also look at other coaches and how much they earn, examining goals and methods. Countries with market economies pay for results while we pay for the job. Honour and respect should go to those showing results,” Mr. Lukashenko added.