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article imageRussia's 'bobsleigh minister' Zubkov eyes further olympic glory

By AFP     Feb 21, 2014 in World

Russian bobsleigh veteran Alexander Zubkov has spoken of his burning desire to win a second Olympic gold in Sochi after coming out of retirement following a brief stint as a sports minister.

The 39-year-old pilot retired in 2010 following a fall-out with bobsleigh federation chiefs and accepted the position of sports minister for the Irkutsk region in Siberia.

But he spent just several months in the post, resuming his sporting career after a change at the top of the federation, saying he was unable to live without the adrenaline.

Zubkov, Russia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, has already won gold in the two-man event at the Sochi Games but does not want to stop there.

"We are super-motivated," said Zubkov, who also won silver in the four-man event at the 2006 Turin Games and bronze in the two-man sled in Vancouver.

Alexander Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda celebrate at the Sochi medals plaza on February 18  201...
Alexander Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda celebrate at the Sochi medals plaza on February 18, 2014 after winning the bobsleigh two-man event
Antonin Thuillier, AFP

"I already have Olympic medals of all values but I want to extend our successful series and to increase my medal collection. We're doing everything we can for this," he said.

Though his time as a minister was brief, to his friends Zubkov has been 'The Bobsleigh Minister' ever since.

Despite a wealth of success on the track together, including the 2011 world championship and the World Cup title, Zubkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda fell out, leading to break-off in relations that lasted for nearly three years.

It was the Russian team's Canadian manager Pierre Lueders who insisted the two men be reunited just two months before the Sochi Games and the move paid immediate dividends with gold.

"He (Lueders) has set such a pacifying chemistry in the team that we just had no other choice but to reconcile ourselves," Zubkov said. "It's completely his merit."

The veteran has spoken of his pride at being chosen to carry Russia's flag in Sochi.

"I also talked to the boys on my (bobsleigh) team. Some of them are superstitious and there is a belief that if you carry the flag you won't win. They all finally said, 'Oh yes, it is fine', so of course I accepted."

With his two-man gold, Zubkov discredited the myth about the flag-bearer's curse. Now he's focused on his four-man mission, which starts with the first two heats on Saturday.

"Of course we feel pressure as everybody in Russia expects us to win now nothing less than a gold medal," Zubkov said.

More about oly, 2014, Bobsleigh, rus, zubkov
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