Do you have professional sport in Soviet Union?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

No, we don't. We regard sports as a means of edu­cation, of building up health, and not of making profits. In the USSR there are no professional ath­letes or professional athletic teams.

For a Soviet athlete sport is something that he devotes his free time to. All Soviet athletes hold reg­ular jobs which provide them with the means of living. Here are a few examples.

Weightlifter Arkady Vorobyev, Doctor of Medi­cine, is a scientist. Rider Yelena Petushkova holds a Candidate's Degree in biology and lectures at Mos­cow University. Boxer Gennady Shatkov holds a Can­didate's degree in law and is an Assistant Profes­sor at Leningrad University. Chess player Mikhail Botvinnik holds the degree of Doctor of Technical Science and works at an energy-research institute.

Of course not all of our famous sportsmen work in the scientific field. Yuri Tyukalov, twice Olympic champion in rowing, is a graduate of the Leningrad Art College and it was he who made the metal em­bossings that decorate the lounge on the nuclear ice-breaker Arktika. Another Olympic champion, weightlifter Yuri Vlasov has become a writer. The famous speed skater Viktor Kosichkin is deputy chief of a department at the Interior Ministry. Foot­ball players Viktor Ponedelnik and Vladimir Maslachenko, and wrestler Alexander Ivanitsky are sports commentators.

All of them hold the title of Master of Sport and at different times were world and Olympic cham­pions. But they were all successfully working or studying in their regular professions at the time they won their medals in sports contests.

How do the athletes manage to work, study and at the same time undergo intensive training and take part in contests? The answer is that the state is strong­ly committed to the development of sports. It al­locates large sums to health protection, to the devel­opment of tourism and mass sports. The total mem­bership of the country's sports clubs is 55 million. More and more coaches are being trained, and new stadiums, sports halls and swimming pools built. Athletes have the free use of gear and equipment. The clubs arrange athletes' trips to places where con­tests are held. The management of enterprises is in­terested in promoting physical training, and if they have a famous athlete on their staff who is also a good worker, they will give him extra leave to take part in contests even on working days. In this case the trade union makes up the lost wages.

Big sports events bring big profits to their spon­sors. In the Soviet Union, however, the profits do not go into the pockets of managers who buy or sell athletes; they go to the sports clubs which use the money for the further advancement of physical training and sports for the masses, that is, for the construction of stadiums and for purchasing gear and equipment.