Beslan Mudranov opened Russia’s medal tally by bagging a Gold for Russia on Day 1 of judo at the Rio Olympics on Saturday. This comes as a reprieve for Russia after their contingent was involved in a massive doping conspiracy.
Mudranov won the men’s 60kg final after coming out on top against Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Smetov, winning by Waza-ari with Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi after 44sec at the Carioca Arena. This puts Russia’s reduced team on the medals table on day one of Rio 2016.
“Our country has been subject to a lot of psychological pressure, so to win a gold medal on the very first day means a lot for my country,” said Mudranov.
The buildup to Rio 2016 for Russia has been marred by revelations of widespread state-sponsored doping. The IOC slashed more than 100 athletes from the Russian contingent after the doping investigations.
This is the smallest contingent from Russia in more than a century at the Olympics. Under guidelines laid down by the International Olympic Committee, but left ultimately to the discretion of individual sports federations, Russians with past doping convictions were ineligible to compete.A�Gold medalist Mudranov insisted that he was always confident of his eligibility to compete despite reaching Brazil just three days prior to the Games.
“Before the Games we were training in Portugal for 10 days and we arrived here on August 3.
“We were confident, we were sure it can’t be that the whole country won’t be allowed to compete in the Olympic games.
“The president of the IOC realized it would be unjust for the athletes who have spent their entire life preparing for the Games, and for some it will be their only Games.
“We were confident. Only on the day the decision was announced were we slightly nervous.”, he was quoted saying.
Russiaa��s medal tally was impressive at the London Olympics four years ago, where they finished fourth in the medals tally despite their limited numbers. Mudranov is confident that there will be plenty more Russian success in Rio.
“The country proved to everyone we can win gold. I am confident this is not the last gold medal.
“We came prepared. No one broke down under the psychological pressure.”
The International Judo Federation (IJF) had been outspoken in backing Russian athletes’ right to compete.
“We hope that by allowing participation of Russian athletes in Rio 2016, we will send out a positive message to all the young people who deserve to be given examples of friendship instead of examples of Cold War,” the IJF said in a statement before the Games.
Japan’s Naohisa Takato, and Diyorbek Urozboev of Uzbekistan bagged bronze medals.