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Russian Sports Icons: Anna and Maria

Why do Russian women do better at Grand Slam tennis events than their male counterparts? How come we do not see Russian women top the leagues in other sports such as Golf? I think that question such as these raise pointers to the professional organization of sports amenities for young people in every country. It is not just a matter of courts and rackets, coaching and integration with primary education curricula matter.

China seems to have taken this to extremes in gymnastics and other disciplines, and may take matters to a crescendo as their chances to host the Olympics and other prestigious international competitions draw near. I do not think we should make too much of national pride just because elite sports people excel, but a focus on raising fitness levels in general, and building love for sports amongst the young, do matter for communities and for people at large.

Anna Kournikova seems to have done more for the world of glamour than she has in terms of excellence in her chosen sport, but I guess that is the way the dice rolls in professional sports nowadays. Most professional sports people end up earning more from endorsements than they do from championship kitties and from contracts-look at what has happened with David Beckham and world soccer, for example! However, a more subtle but equally important trend is the contribution that glamorous sports stars make to the global images of the countries to which they belong and for which they play.

There is this girl Sania Mirza from Hyderabad in India, for example: she has never won any major event by our reckoning, but she has made such a huge impact on the world stage that even President Bush once made a passing reference to her! Many, who thought of India as a land of snake charmers, are now aware of its powerful race towards modern development, thanks to Sania, at least in part.

Maria Sharapova, for my taste, lacks some of the ethereal looks with which Anna is blessed, but she certainly has a physique which is at least as good! She also seems set to make bigger waves on the professional tennis circuit than her illustrious predecessor!

Do you know of other Russians, of either sex, who are set to make it big time, in any professional sport?

 



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