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Russia looks to bounce back in Cheboksary

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Russia has been stung into action by its failure to win the European Athletics Team Championships Super League at the weekend.

The Russian squad finished second to hosts Germany after dominating the three previous editions, leading to head coach, Valentin Maslakov, promising sweeping changes ahead.

Next year Russia hosts the Super League in Cheboksary and Maslakov is determined there will be no slip ups there.

“We are at home next year and we will field the strongest possible team,” he promised.

“It was clear that Germany deliberately prepared for the championships because we saw a number of sensational results from their athletes.”

If there is one area that Maslakov identified as weak for Russia it was in the sprints: “In recent years we have seen things deteriorate in both the 100m and 200m for both men and women.

“There has also been no progress with the distance events for the men. And there exists a remedy to this problem. And it is quite a radical one.

“We have already taken the decision in principle in the case of low-level results in these disciplines not to include these athletes in the squad for the European Athletics Championships in Zurich even if they are Russian champions.

“Nor will there be a sprint relay team,” he commented before adding, “We don’t want any tourists in the team.

“This should motivate athletes to improve their results for the next pre-Olympic season.”

Though Maslakov agreed that the men’s long jump was not strong in Braunschweig, he was not afraid to promote younger talent to the national squad if need be.

A case in point is Kirill Sukharev who has already jumped 8.13 this year: “If he performs well in the trials we will be happy to see him in the squad,” confirmed Maslakov. “But our main hope is for a speedy return to fitness of Alexander Menkov in time for Zurich.”

Maslakov received the backing of the General Secretary of the All-Russian Athletics Federation, Mikhail Butov, who was also determined that Russian athletics should put on a winning face next year.

“The European Athletics Team Championships in Cheboksary will be one of the most important competitions in 2015, despite being a world championships season.

“We of course want to win at home. Domestic events give additional motivation, they effect some people adversely but inspire others. We saw clearly in the German case that many of their athletes performed above their capabilities.”

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