Jul 29, 2008

Return to Glory

(and hopefully not in a Notre Dame football sort of way... I mean what the hell is Charlie Weis doing?...anyway)

NYTIMES: Fears of losing Olympic ascendancy have impelled Russia to spend the last several yrs pumping billions of dollars from its oil-soaked coffers into rebuilding an athletics infrastructure left to rot when the USSR crumbled. The investment has shown impressive results. Last Sept, the nat'l basketball team won the European championship for the 1st time since 1991. In May, the nat'l hockey team beat Canada for its 1st world championship in 15 yrs and St. Petersburg’s Zenit soccer club won the UEFA Cup championship. Last month, the nat'l soccer team created a frenzy by advancing to the semifinals at the European championship. In tennis, 5 of the top 10 women are Russian. At the Beijing Olympics, Russia is expected to contend for supremacy at the top of the medal table — as usual.

Vyacheslav Fetisov, the former Nat'l Hockey League star, is the head of Rossport, the gov't agency charged with overseeing Russia’s athletic development. He said his budget for building up the country’s athletic infrastructure soared from a couple hundred thousand dollars in 2002 to $1 billion today. The gov't has also deployed Russia’s cadre of Kremlin-friendly billionaires to help in the effort. The country’s 10 richest businessmen, in addition to aiding other athletic projects, have donated about $12 million to the Fund for the Support of Olympians, which will give cash awards to medal winners in Beijing.

So this leads to a question...What the hell are Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey doing?! Get on the ball!

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