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  • Olympic Newsdesk -- Russia Aims for #1 in Sochi; Equestrian President Runs Again; Fiji Commonwealth Ban


    Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said he wants Russia to top the medal tally at the Sochi Olympics. (Getty Images)
    Russia Sets Medal Goal for Sochi 2014

    Russia sports minister Vitaly Mutko sets an ambitious medal target for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to avoid a repeat of the country's dismal showing at the Vancouver Games.

    According to Vesti Sport report, Mutko estimated that Russia would need about 15 golds to top the overall medal table at the 2014 Games. Russia could only manage 11th place in the medals tally in Vancouver, winning just three golds, five silvers and seven bronzes.

    Mutko insists his medal goal was achievable because of “the Russian team’s sporting potential and systemized and carefully planned work". He said the team’s training plan for Sochi 2014 had yet to be signed off by the government.

    Mutko has so far survived the fall-out from the Vancouver Olympics. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already forced the resignations of a number of senior sports officials, including NOC chief Leonid Tyagachev, who he blames for the poor medal haul.

    Russia's Olympic Committee accepted the resignation of Tyagachev last week.

    First vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee Igor Kazikov was named acting president until the election of Russia's new Olympic chief on May 20.

    But the Russian government may find it difficult to find a suitable successor to Tyagachev, according to a report by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

    It quotes a top sports official saying that no one has yet applied for the post because of the enormous pressure to succeed at the Sochi 2014 Games.

    "The task is set clearly: first place in overall medals table in Sochi is a successful result, second - unsuccessful, third - an epic failure. Apparently, this is the reason why there still haven't been any applicants for the position of the president of the Olympic Committee," Rostislav Murzagulov, an adviser to the NOC, was quoted as saying.

    The deadline for applications for the presidency is April 19.

    Equestrian President Runs for Second Term

    Princess Haya Al Hussein says she will seek another term as president of the International Equestrian Federation.

    Princess Haya announced she will for a second term as equestrian federation president. (Getty Images)
    In a statement issued Wednesday by her office in Dubai, Haya says her decision came “after several FEI nation groups and federations urged her to stand for a second term.”

    She named Pablo Mayorga of Argentina, chair of the FEI group representing eight South American federations and Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa of Bahrain, chair of the FEI group representing 18 Middle East national federations.

    "Her track record as President has been consistently impressive, and while there is much work in progress, there is no doubt of her commitment and ability to see through the necessary changes and development in our sport over the next four years," is how Mayorga is quoted in the statement.

    So far, other candidates have not stepped forward to challenge Haya for the presidency.

    Haya, 34, was elected FEI President in 2006. In 2007 she was elected a member of the IOC by virtue of her federation post.

    While elected on a platform to modernize the federation, a move to reduce the size of the ruling FEI Bureau was defeated by one vote at an Extraordinary Congress held in November.

    An Olympian, she competed in jumping at the 2000 Games as well as at the 2002 world championships.

    "Our sport has given me some of the happiest moments of my life, and I would like to continue to have the opportunity to give something back. Our federation has undergone profound change. My goal now is a period of calm to build on the progress we have made together,” said Haya in her statement.

    CAS Upholds Fiji Ban

    Fiji will not participate at the Commonwealth Games in October. The Commonwealth Games Federation says the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a ban against Fiji’s participation.

    "The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the case... seeking the right for Fiji to participate at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October this year," the CGF said in a statement.

    Vidhya Lakhan, the head of Fiji’s Olympic committee said on Radio New Zealand he is confused by the court’s ruling.

    "We can't seem to understand how the decision could have gone against us because the Commonwealth Games Federation constitution says if your country is in the Commonwealth, then your athletes can take part" he said. "That was the basis of our appeal to CAS. We're very much interested in finding out the grounds on which our appeal has been dismissed."

    At a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last
    Lawyers for Caster Semenya are considering legal action so she can return to competitive running. (Getty Images)
    year, it was determined Fiji is not living up to Commonwealth values.

    Frank Bainimarama overthrew the elected government in 2006 and refused to hold elections before a 2010 deadline, set by the Commonwealth. This led to Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth.

    "Sporting ties are inseparable from the values of the association" the Commonwealth said in a statement, justifying its actions to prevent the South Pacific country from competing at the Games.

    Semenya Enters Legal Battle Against ASA

    Lawyers for Caster Semenya are considering legal action against Athletics South Africa to allow her to resume running competitively.

    Semenya has not raced since the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin when it was revealed that she may have undergone a gender change. Gender test results are not expected until June.

    On Tuesday, she attempted to take part in a meet in Stellenbosch, South Africa but ASA officials prevented her from participating.

    South African media reports that her lawyers sent a letter ASA head administrator Ray Mali asking for clearance for Semenya to compete in a Johannesburg meet on April 6. Mali told Reuters on Thursday that he has not received the letter.
    It is unclear whether Semenya will attempt to compete in the meet if she does not receive clearance.

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    Written by Ed Hula III and Sam Steinberg.

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