Triumph is real
<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-442.jpg">[b]Now that some time has passed since the Sochi Olympics, and our emotions have calmed a little, let’s reflect on our sporting successes, looking at them in chronological sequence.[/b]<br />[b]Given a Hero’s Welcome[/b] is the first in our series of articles looking at the phenomenon of Olympic dreams coming true. Here is an extract: ‘Following an amazing 16 days of winter sports, the Olympic Games in Sochi ended with a magnificent closing ceremony, with evening illuminations. Darya Domracheva, our triple gold-champion, carried the Belarusian flag with her customary smile and, on Monday, the national team returned to Minsk. Unsurprisingly, they were met by a joyous crowd at the airport, eager to congratulate our team on its most ‘fruitful’ Games in the history of Belarus: five gold and one bronze medal. Without doubt, our national team caused a sensation.’
Given a Hero’s Welcome is the first in our series of articles looking at the phenomenon of Olympic dreams coming true. Here is an extract: ‘Following an amazing 16 days of winter sports, the Olympic Games in Sochi ended with a magnificent closing ceremony, with evening illuminations. Darya Domracheva, our triple gold-champion, carried the Belarusian flag with her customary smile and, on Monday, the national team returned to Minsk. Unsurprisingly, they were met by a joyous crowd at the airport, eager to congratulate our team on its most ‘fruitful’ Games in the history of Belarus: five gold and one bronze medal. Without doubt, our national team caused a sensation.’
Truly, we should bestow honour where honour is due: our Belarusian Olympic Sochi medallists have had their achievements recognised at the highest level. Here is an extract from Glory for the Nation: ‘It’s always a special occasion when the central doors of the Palace of Independence open to guests: be they Olympic champions or top global statesmen. Of course, our athletes work just as hard to promote Belarus as do our diplomats, as we much appreciate. Nadezhda Skardino, Alla Tsuper, Anton Kushnir and Darya Domracheva appeared a little subdued on entering the Palace hall: they are more at home on the slopes or biathlon track than a red carpet – unlike film stars receiving their ‘Oscar’, surrounded habitually by lights and TV cameras. My natural inclination was to reassure them: they have travelled so many kilometres – and how many lie ahead? A few steps on a red carpet are nothing in comparison. Nevertheless, the Palace of Independence exerts a sense of wonder over all visitors, creating memories never forgotten. Moreover, the majesty of the ceremony perhaps made them realise the nation’s true appreciation of their achievements. We love them and wish to shower them with honours.
President Alexander Lukashenko personally welcomed the winners, presenting state awards. Darya Domracheva received the Hero Star of Belarus for her unique Olympic triple-gold triumph. Her achievement may never be repeated. Our freestyle jumpers each received a 3rd Degree Order of the Fatherland for their extreme bravery and dedication: even one tiny error can deprive them of a medal. The same award was given to Nadezhda Skardino, to whom Mr. Lukashenko recalled the proverb: ‘Faith is the mother of success while labour is its father’. The entire nation hopes that Nadezhda’s confident path to a gold medal is just beginning. Several more athletes, coaches and specialists were awarded at the meeting, with the chief coach of the Belarusian freestyle team – Nikolay Kozeko – receiving a 1st Degree Order of the Fatherland, thus becoming full cavalier of this high award.’
This issue offers a whole kaleidoscope of bright Olympic achievements: read more in Festival Mood on the Streets, Games Bow Only to the Strongest, Going the Distance for Gold and Together on the Medals Podium.
Tales and True Stories from Krasnaya Polyana is written by Sergey Kanashits - who was present in Sochi, observing the firework of records at first hand. He writes with great emotion: ‘Anton Kushnir’s Sochi gold freestyle jump was one few of his professional peers would be able to repeat. Of course, he was just one among several Belarusian athletes who shook the world with their outstanding achievements: they were the talk of Sochi. Darya Domracheva and Anton Kushnir jointly won a record number of gold medals, bringing our nation a flood of pride and joy...’
We also remember the coaches and support staff who made those medals possible. A Life of Sporting Passion is dedicated to the head coach of the Belarusian national freestyle team, genius Nikolay Kozeko. His colleagues and pupils know well his dedication but never speak of it, as Mr. Kozeko prefers to remain modestly in the background.
Our Olympic athletes have earned glory for our country and raised the bar high for those who come after them. A great many visitors will soon be arriving for the World Ice Hockey Championship and, no doubt, an even greater number will now seek to see Belarus with their own eyes, having learnt of our sporting nation from our Sochi success. Belarus will hereafter be known as a sporting country. What will be their impressions? Will our hockey players perform well, maintaining the reputation we earned at the Olympiad? It’s difficult to set records but even more difficult to keep them – especially in team events. The baton has been passed and our hockey players must now hold it high.
By Victor Kharkov