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2017-02-23 11:40:00 CEST

More Than Sports: Russia's dream

Expectations and plans for the new Russian squad

Athletes are not usually happy about placing fourth at a tournament especially when it means that a medal has been missed out on twice, once to make it into the finals and again at the bronze medal match. But sometimes, weeks later, when one looks back, one realizes, that something big has been achieved. The fourth place reached at the Rio Olympics by Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov is just an example of that – it was a historical success for both themselves and their country as a whole.

Всем большое спасибо за поддержку 🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺👏👏👏

674 Likes, 73 Comments - Вячеслав Красильников (@slavik113) on Instagram: "Всем большое спасибо за поддержку 🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺👏👏👏"

Placing fourth in beach volleyball at the Rio Olympics was the best Russia has done at the discipline to date. “And if Nikita Liamin and Dmitri Barsuk would have won against Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo (they lost 1:2 in quarter final), we would have had a Russian semi-final,” says Vjatseslav Nirk; the 46-year-old has been the Russian beach volleyball players since 2011. Last year was the first time he coached the two Russian men's teams all the way to the Olympics.

Second attempt at winning Gold

At the three-star Kish Island event, the Russians made us take notice and realize that one cannot talk about top teams in the world without acknowledging them. Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov won gold at their second tournament together after the Fort Lauderdale Major, and Oleg Stoyanovksiy/Artem Yarzutkin claimed bronze at their second ever FIVB World Tour medal with silver both at the Kish Island event.

Хотим по благодарить всех болельщиков которые следили за нашей игрой и конечно же большое спасибо нашим родным которые переживали за нас 👏👍с победой 🏆🏅#fivb #kish#open

585 Likes, 30 Comments - Вячеслав Красильников (@slavik113) on Instagram: "Хотим по благодарить всех болельщиков которые следили за нашей игрой и конечно же большое спасибо..."

That level of success was unexpected as Russian teams went through a couple of changes following the Olympics. First one being that 37-year-old Dmitri Barsuk retired from beach volleyball altogether and also that Konstantin Semenov made the change to indoor. That was a little surprising since the 27-year-old blocker did not concentrate on indoor after his early years and also that he is currently at the best age for success on the sand. He is playing as an outside spiker in the Russian third league at the moment. “It was a family decision and I respect that,” explained coach Vjatseslav “I hope he will receive good results there.”

The big competitor that is indoor 

Indoor is a big competitor for beach volleyball in Russia, which has one of the strongest leagues in the world. “Many young guys choose to play indoor,” says Vjatseslav and he understands why. “You have a stable income, even if you sit on the bench whereas beach volleyball means hard work.”

Take Nikita Liamin for example, he made the switch but the other way around. The 2.04m tall blocker and former Champions-League-finalist came to the sand in 2014. He suffered from shoulder injuries, so 2016 was the first season he could play uninterrupted. “He is 31-years-old, but because of his lack of experience on the sand, he still has a lot of potential for development,” states Vjatseslav.

2019 medal plan

The same applies for Liamin’s 25-year-old partner Viacheslav, and even more so for Oleg and Artem (both 20) who hired former World Tour player Rivo Vesik from Estonia as a coach last year. Rivo now works as the second national coach for Russia's squad. The third national team is Maxim Sivolap (20) and Igor Velichko (21) who also reached the quarter finals at Kish Island.

Спортивный вечер🖒

73 Likes, 1 Comments - Nikita Liamin (@liamin_14th) on Instagram: "Спортивный вечер🖒"

Team building:  Viacheslav, Nikita and Oleg watch Miami Heat match together.

“The beginning of this season makes us optimistic,” says. But Viacheslav remains cautious and does not want to set his goals too high. “Russians always want to win,” he says laughing, “[But] we have to be realistic as there is a lot of work to do.”

Viacheslav maintains medal dreams for the World Championships in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as he succinctly says “In Russia, we always have a plan.”


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