Spectacular failure by Russia at the World Track & Field (a/k/a “Athletics”) Championships in Berlin last week.
Just for starters, Russia’s most famous “athlete” Yelena Isinbayeva not only failed to win gold, not only failed to win any medal, she failed to to clear any height in the pole vault event, meekly surrendering a title she had held for five years. Then another top Russian hopeful, Gulnara Galkina, failed to win any medal in the steeplechase event where she was favored to take gold, losing the lead in the last 100 meters and finishing out of the money.
By the end of the week, Russia had taken just four gold medals, and three of them came in the sham sport of “speed walking,” the athletics variant of rhythmic gymnastic or synchronized swimming (other pseudo sports in which Russia excels to pad its medal count). Let there be no doubt: Nobody walks real fast over the distance of 20 kilometers quite like a Russian! Bring on the Wheaties box! Russia would take no more gold over the weekend.
The only “real” event Russia had won by Friday evening was the high jump, while the USA had six gold medals, all in high-profile events like the 200 and 400 meter races, the shotput and the decathalon. The USA also had 50% more overall medals than Russia. Jamaica — yes, Jamaica — had more gold medals than Russia.
In the end, the USA finished with a whopping total of 22 medal, nearly half of them gold, almost twice as many medals and nearly three times as many gold medals as Russia. Russia was bested in gold medals by Jamaica and equalled by Kenya, and managed only one gold medal outside of speed walkiing.
Nice job there, Mr. Putin. No wonder Russians are so impressed.