Veronika Kudermetova and Danil Sadreyev: Tatarstan’s best athletes

The sports summary of 2022: a 2+10 principle

A series of quite strange sports years goes on. The coronavirus year of 2020 was replaced by 2022 when Russians were given just two months of international practice. However, February alone would be enough for us to consider the year successful, which was announced at a solemn ceremony of the traditional Athlete of the Year award. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Olympics in Beijing: only gold was missing

The medal harvest of the Olympics in Beijing surpassed the one in 2018, though it seemed then that two silver and two bronze medals were a great result because earlier winter Olympians from Tatarstan hadn’t had any medals either on teams of the USSR and Russia. Now the result improved qualitatively. Figure skater Yevgenia Tarasova has an individual silver in the pairs (she also had a silver four years ago but in the team event). Also, ski jumper Danil Sadreyev, hockey player Timur Bilyalov and Dmitry Voronkov (Andrey Larkov from Zelenodolsk had a silver in 2018) were runners-up. But now we have fewer bronze medals (there were two, now we have one), including because the number of Olympic events in snowboard reduced. Vic Wild representing team Tatarstan since 2018 stood out in giant slalom (there used to be parallel slalom at the Olympics too).

Now let’s switch to the expected complaints: what does ex-American Wild have to do with Tatarstan? This is what the contemporary sports life is like: look how Morocco was happy about the fourth place of its squad at the FIFA World Cup even though more than a half of the national team was born and grew up, lives and plays outside Morocco. Moreover, the Moroccans were glad about this result in Belgium and the Netherlands, Germany and France, Spain and Italy. However, Tatarstan has no reason to justify itself. Artur Kayumov from Bugulma, Damir Sharipzyanov from Nizhnekamsk (by the way, Timur Bilyalov is his compatriot), Vladimir Tkachyov who trained at Ak Bars sports schools since early age and Yegor Yakovlev who played here since the age of 17 went to the Olympics to Beijing.

From Tatarstan countryside to Russian Olympic team

Four female hockey players — Liana Ganeyeva, Fanuza Kadirova, Olga Sosina and Landysh Falyakhova — are pupils of Tatarstan hockey. Liana Ganeyev comes from Baysarovo village, Aktanysh district, Fanuza Kadirova is from Sardek-Bash village, Kukmara District, Landysh Falyakhova is from Ike Artash village, Saba District, Olga Sosina — from Almetyevsk. The female hockey team created in Saba District under Sergey Stolbun (who moved from Moscow to Kazan in his youth) gathered the best first from villages from different districts. Roman Trofimov (ski jumper) was born in Leninogorsk as well as medallist Sadreyev. Figure skater Kamila Valeyeva was born in Kazan but represented Moscow, her older teammate Konstantin Milyukov was on team Belarus. Not only Kazan but also Almetyevsk and Bugulma, Leninogorsk and Nizhnekamsk, Aktanysh, Kukmara, Saba districts were on team Russia: when did this happen? The recent victor Zelenodolsk let us down a bit because coronavirus knocked the town’s best skier Andrey Larkov down but we don’t cross him out. Neither do we Paralympians Marta Zaynullina from Nizhnekamsk and Rushan Minnegulov from Bogatye Saby the IOC put obstacles on their way to the podium like in Pyoengchang in 2018. Some lack extremities, some do conscience. By the way, there was another Tatarstan athlete in that Paralympian team — sledge hockey player Ayrat Khamzin was born and lives in Almetyevsk but played for a team near Moscow.

But there is men’s hockey, and there is a number of questions for it, for instance, why haven’t there been Tatarstan players in youth and junior teams for the first time in many years? Yes, the world youth championship was put off, Russia managed to compete there, while we weren’t invited to the postponed world cup. It should be reminded that there weren’t Tatarstan athletes unlike, let’s say, in figure skating where Yevgenia Tarasova won a silver. And the Kazan school is strong not only thanks to Valiyeva who left Kazan with her parents as a kid, there are a lot of students, Adelina Galyaviyeva is one of them (participated in the 2021 World Championship, a bronze medallist of the Universiade), she could compete at the Olympics for team France but her partner failed her — he retired.

Sadreyev’s silver is a script for a new sports blockbuster

Danil Sadreyev in the end was recognised as the best athlete of Tatarstan in 2022 sharing this title with Veronika Kudermetova. Sadreyev’s sports journey, we think, is worthy of a script for a new sports film that have often started to appear in cinemas. For instance, legendary Dmitry Sautin announced a similar film about the story of other divers from the programme of Summer Olympics was prepared. Realnoe Vremya’s editorial has heard enough about some ideas of a film on handball, moreover, everybody remembers the victory of the national women’s team in Rio in 2016. Not to mention Sadreyev, Wild, Tarasova and tennis player Veronika Kudermetova who was recognised the best athlete. They all have gone tough ways to the stars, each of them has had one’s difficulties that would be enough for a drama.

But in 2022 each of them, surprisingly, has been lucky no matter how tough the year had been. I mean they have competed and Kudermetova is lucky because international tennis has several federations. The International Federation is one that goes with the flow and suspended Russian teams from its tournaments, the men’s teams from the Davis Cup and the women’s teams from the Federations Cup. But ATP and WTA are the organisers and regulators of individual competitions. These professional organisations like well-known NBA and NHL overseas don’t obey like the IOC, WADA or other sports organisations where sport is equal to politics. ATP and WTA are purely “about business” and they decided at the moment that they need Russian and Belarusian athletes. Veronika Kudermetova took advantage of the situation and won the doubles of the final WTA tournament together with her partner from Belgium Elise Mertens, in fact, the unofficial world championship.

KAMAZ-Master is the best team

The recognition of Kudermetova or the best team of the republic that is KAMAZ-Master, on the one hand, looks so unexpected because the status of the Olympics speaks for itself and the number of international awards in case of Yevgenia Tarasova. But we cannot help but mention the strategic decision of the Tatarstan Ministry of Sport. Last year, Kudermetova was a step aside an Olympic medal, the Games in Paris in 2024 will likely be held without Russians, though tennis players have some hope. Therefore it would be strategically wrong not to mention Veronika and remind the audience about her Kazan roots. In general the Tatarstan Ministry of Sport, its manager Vladimir Leonov are worthy of being mentioned because after coping with the difficulties of the debut at the Olympics in Rio in 2016, which ended with a poor result, they managed to prepare for the main competition in four years three times and improve the results at Pyoengchang in 2018, Tokyo in 2020 and now.

Besides the lorry team from Naberezhnye Chelny (how could we dare not to have the representatives of the lorry making town in the successful sports team of the republic?), we would like not note the successful development of Sintez Sports Club that has won different awards in water polo and has taken the lead in diving, hockey players of Dynamo who have won almost all trophies in field hockey. If stability is a seal of mastery, Dynamo Tatarstan is a symbol of stability. Strela rugby team has made a step forward and it isn’t ruled out that next season it will bring the republic the first medals in the nationals. The potential absence of the international season will allow representatives of Tatar national wrestling kuresh and sambo wrestlers to remind people about themselves because their international federations are controlled by Russians. By the way, Chelny-born Daniil Shirkovsky has won the world combat sambo champion this year and we traditionally have a lot of kuresh champions.

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.