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Russia sports minister scales back Olympic medal expectations

Vitaly Mutko

(FILES) A file picture taken on September 30, 2012, shows Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko attending a news conference in Moscow. Mutko called today to build “beautiful stadiums” for the FIFA World Cup-2018 in Russia to attract more spectators to the stands to watch the “big game.” AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

In March, Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said the “only estimated and expected result” for Russia at the Sochi Olympics would be to lead the gold-medal standings.

A few weeks later, Mutko said a top-three finish would be a fair result.

Mutko went even softer last week, saying a top-five finish in the medal count would be satisfactory, according to Agence France-Presse.

“In my opinion, our situation is more difficult in the winter sports than it is in the summer ones,” Mutko said. “There are 98 sets of medals being contested in 14 sports. And only five them are our traditional ones in which we once had success.”

Russia finished a disappointing sixth in overall medals and 11th in gold medals at the 2010 Olympics, prompting widespread changes among its sports programs ahead of hosting the 2014 Winter Games.

Russia is not expected to be among the top few nations in Sochi. The overall and gold-medal standings are expected to be led by Canada, Germany, Norway or the U.S.

“Of course we are setting ourselves the goal of a successful performance, but we also understand today’s realities,” Mutko said, according to AFP. “But I can assure you that we will not be embarrassed for ourselves.”

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