By Dmitry Komashko
Meanwhile, others are left to judge their achievements. The traditional end of year poll has been held, with fans, newspapers and websites casting their votes for the best athletes of 2010. The ‘judges’ in Belarus were unanimous in choosing freestyle skier Alexey Grishin and biathlete Darya Domracheva, although many were nominated, including all of the girls on the Belarusian national basketball squad (who came fourth at the World Championship for the first time).
Yelena Levchenko was an obvious leader, having reached the finals of the greatest world basketball event: the women’s NBA. Victoria Azarenko was also a strong contender, having played at the Masters Tournament for the second year in a row. Sergey Martynov, 42, won the World Championship in the most competitive shooting event — using a small-calibre rifle. The list is too long to enumerate but we must mention biathlete Sergey Novikov and rowers Yekaterina Karsten and Denis Garazha.
The winners had the advantage of having claimed Olympic medals. Domracheva’s several wins at World Cup rounds deserve recognition, while Grishin’s gold was unique!
First for the first time
Alexey Grishin has been many times praised by fans and specialists. Four years ago, in Salt Lake City, he took an Olympic bronze. He topped various polls and promised to jump higher in future. Clearly, he kept his word.
Nine years ago, the same slope made Alexey Grishin world champion. In 2010, he climbed it again without his team mates (Big Crystal Globe winner Anton Kushnir and Olympic Nagano silver medallist Dmitry Dashchinsky were earlier knocked out). He snatched gold for the first time in the history of Belarusian Olympic winter sports.
“It’s such an honour to be recognised by these polls,” Alexey admits. “As they say, all good things come in threes, so I’ll do my best to claim further success.” This season, Grishin is resting following a back injury; the Olympics have taken their toll on his fitness, so he is missing out on the World Cup round, hosted by Raubichi near Minsk, in February.
“I’m currently in the shadows, obliged to assert that I’ll be back on form, without being able to prove the truth of my words,” he explains. “I’m not worried about taking a break, as I need this time to train for the Olympics in Sochi. I plan to become the first freestyle skier to win three Olympic medals…”
Darya Domracheva has been named the world’s top biathlete of the year at an official gala-ceremony, following her bright season. The leader of the Belarusian team and Olympic bronze holder beat Olga Zaitseva of Russia, Anastasia Kuzmina of Slovakia, Marie Laure Brunet of France and Magdalena Neuner of Germany to claim ‘Biathlon Award’.
Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway was given the honour among men, while Martin Fourcade was recognised as best ‘newcomer’ and Stephan Butie of France was given the title of best coach of the year.
Domracheva is again in the spotlight this season, winning various events, and is anticipating the World Championship, to be held in Russian Khanty-Mansiysk — the city where Darya took her first biathlon steps.