By Dmitry Baranovsky
The Sports and Tourism Ministry’s goal of 25 medals is yet to kick off, although optimism continues regarding our chances. Sadly, Athens Olympic 100m champion Yulia Nesterenko is absent from London, due to injury, alongside weightlifter Andrey Aryamnov — who took gold in Beijing — and hammer thrower Vadim Devyatovsky.
Alexandra Gerasimenya — last year’s swimming world champion — came 6th in the semi-finals of the 100m butterfly (58.41 seconds) which isn’t enough to see her through to the finals. Gymnast Dmitry Kasperovich has also been unlucky, finishing just 0.133 points behind Ukrainian Igor Radivilov in the vault (2 qualifying attempts). Belarusian Yelena Telepushkina came a disappointing 34th among 37 entrants in the dressage eventing and Alexandra Pavlovich has been knocked out in the second round of the table tennis.
However, the Belarusian favourites are yet to join the battle. Yekaterina Karsten is easily through to the next round in academic rowing, looking confident for a medal at her sixth Olympiad. Weightlifters Anastasia Novikova and Andrey Rybakov seriously intend to fight for gold, as does the canoe and kayak squad, headed by Vladimir Shantarovich (having done well in Beijing).
Hammer thrower Ivan Tikhon, shot putter Nadezhda Ostapchuk, cyclist Olga Panarina, tennis players Victoria Azarenko and Max Mirny, wrestler Alexey Shemarov, World Boxing Champion Sergey Korneev and marksman Sergey Martynov all have high hopes of success, as do our gymnasts. The potential is vast but competition in London is strong.
Swimmer Michael Phelps was unrivalled four years ago yet must now be satisfied with silver. Alexander Vinokurov of Kazakhstan celebrated victory in the road cycling race, but seriously considered retiring a year ago, following a thigh fracture. Mark Cavendish, who was predicted the major prize, failed even to join the leaders. No doubt, this Olympiad has surprises in store but we hope that our athletes will play a major role in this colourful and intriguing sporting event.