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Russia boss: ‘We need more black athletes’

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VALENTIN-PRESIDENTMOSCOW, September 10- The head of Russia’s athletics federation has issued a call for the naturalization of black athletes to maintain the country’s leading position in the sport, local media reported Wednesday.

“The results of the recent European athletics championships in Zurich, where Great Britain and France dominated the event, leave us no other choice,” the Novye Izvestia daily quoted Valentin Balakhnichev as saying.

“Black athletes, who form the backbone of the British team, won 14 of their squad’s 23 overall medals at the event.

“Meanwhile, we’re currently doing almost nothing to bring young black talents into our squad to help us stay at a leading position in Europe and the world.

“Moreover, I was repeatedly criticised for my efforts to bring black athletes into the country’s squad.”

At the European championships in Zurich, Russia finished fourth in the event’s medal table winning only three golds and 22 medals overall.

Earlier this year Kenyan long distance runners, who had expressed their desire to receive Russian citizenship, competed in the Russian national athletics championships in Kazan at 5000 metres and in the 3000m steeplechase.

However, none of them managed to win a place on the championship podiums.

Balakhniches said that almost 100 foreigners had expressed the desire to become students at the Volga physical culture academy in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan after the university administration had announced a possibility of openings.

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