Russian Vancouverites turn eyes to the motherland

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Inna Michalov, owner of Russian World on Main street
Inna Michalov, owner of Russian World on Main street

Russian-Canadians are getting ready to celebrate as the Winter Olympics open in their home country on Feb. 7 in Sochi.

Inna Mikhailov is a Russian-Canadian who has lived in Vancouver for 17 years. She owns Russian World, a shop on Main Street that sells Russian goods including books.

She said the upcoming Olympics give Russians an opportunity to showcase their love of athletics.

Soviet Union era

“In the period of the Soviet Union, sports [were] important,” she said. “It was very cheap for parents to get their kids into sports.”

“In that period, Russians had a lot of gold medals because children started to play sports young.”

Nataliya Yakovenko, a Russian language instructor at Langara, said sports are not only important to Russians physically, but philosophically as well.

“Russians like sports and competition,” she said.

“They believe that a healthy body is a good home for a healthy spirit and they respect people who practice athletic culture and a healthy body.”

Hospitality and sport

Yakovenko also said the Olympics appeal to Russians because it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their hospitality.

“By opening doors for visitors and sportsmen from different countries, Russians believe they can strengthen friendship, and partnership in overcoming people’s problems.”

As for the controversies surrounding Russian politics, Mikhailov believes people should avoid the disputes about Olympics and just have fun.

“This is an opportunity to see each other’s country. To introduce each other, and make friends,” she said.

“[These are] friendly Olympic games. This is the chance to get together and just play sports.”

Even though she is Russian, Mikhailov says she will cheer for both Canada and Russia as she did during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Reported by Edrick Dudang

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