Raising Russia's Sports Stars

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Young Russian athletes are put through their paces. Duration 6,16

Wrestling for success

Start Quote

Young wrestler takes a break

At first it was just something to do after school. When I started doing well I wanted to make it my career”

End Quote Alen, 15 Olympic school pupil

It's before seven in the morning at the Olympic Sports School in Yekaterinburg training is already well underway.

It's chin ups before breakfast, for Russian teenager Alen.

At 15, he is one of the youngest pupils at the school. He's a wrestler, and wants to make it to the Olympics one day.

Wrestling is popular sport in Russia and Alen's been practising since he was seven.

It's a competitive training session but when the whistle blows, Alen and his team mate are friends again.

Alen trains five days a week. It's rough but Alen loves it.

"That was good," he says as he picks up his kit, "I'm tired but I still have some energy left."

Olympic school

The school's Olympic flag The Special School of the Olympic Reserve opened in 1971

The Olympic school in Ekaterinburg opened forty years ago with one aim: to win Olympic medals.

Over 70 of its former pupils have gone stood on the medals podium for sports including gymnastics, diving and ice skating. That's a lot of medals!

Pupils at the school today hope that they will be able to tune in to watch some of their classmates - like 16 year old diver, Genia - at London 2012.

Students come from all across Russia to study at the school. So like Alen most of them live in the school's boarding house.

Alen only arrived at the school a few weeks ago but he's settled in well.

Sport takes a lot of energy and Alen has six meals a day. The school makes sure that they eat the right types of food.

"I like the food here," says Alen, "it's tasty and designed with sportspeople in mind."

Pupils do more sport than lessons.


Sport's been a big deal in Russia since Soviet times.

Last century Russia was at the heart of the 'Soviet Union'. It was a Communist super power.

In sport, it tried to win more medals than any other country to show how powerful it was.

Hundreds of sports boarding schools like the one Alen goes to were set up to train children from the age of seven.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Lots of the sports schools closed, and for the others the age range changed. At this school, you have to be at least 14.

Getting ready

Start Quote

Young gymnast performing

I'd like to go to the sports school get to the Olympics. That's my dream”

End Quote Dasha, age 9 School 108, Ekaterinburg

Younger children in the same city can't wait for their chance to come here.

Dasha is 9 and loves gymnastics. She goes to School No 108, also in Ekaterinburg and is one of their best gymnasts.

"I compete in a team," she says, "there are five of us and we're all good friends."

Russia is the biggest country in the world and Dasha has travelled far and wide to take part in gymnastics events.

She loves the competitions. "We wear special costumes with sparkles when we perform," she says, "we have different clothes for every performance. Our last competition was in a town six hours drive from Ekaterinburg."

Some of the best gymnasts in the world went to the Olympic school. Dasha wants to follow in their footsteps.

Looking ahead

It will be a few years before Alen reaches his fighting peak.

He's determined to pin down Olympic success the same way he has pinned down his team mate.

Today's Russians want to show that although so much has changed the country is still a superpower.

These young athletes will influence the way the world sees the new Russia. And they can't wait for their chanceā€¦

Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production

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