As Russia reels, country loses yet another sporting hero

As Russia reels from the humiliation of the military debacle in Ukraine and the global isolation it’s caused, the country has suffered the loss of yet another one of its sporting heroes.

According to Russia’s Channel 78, Maria Gusakova — an Olympic cross-country skiing gold medalist for the Soviet Union — passed away on Sunday.

News of her death was announced by the country’s Committee on Physical Culture and Sports.

“Today at 5 am, the champion of the 1960 Olympics in cross-country skiing, Maria Ivanovna Gusakova, passed away,” a computer translation of the statement read. “A legend of Leningrad sports, one of our first Olympic champions. Maria Ivanovna was 91 years old.”

Her passing comes less than a week after Soviet national soccer player Yuri Vasenin died at 73.

She won three Olympic medals — a gold and a silver at the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, California, and a bronze at the 1964 Olympiad in Innsbruck, Austria.

She also competed for the prestigious Spartak sporting society, which fields teams and athletes across numerous sports.

The loss likely won’t receive the coverage it would have otherwise, however, given the major news in Russia is the country’s demoralizing quagmire in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to put a positive spin on things during his speech at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Monday, again repeating the false claim the Ukrainian government is in the hands of “Nazis,” according to The Washington Post.

He also claimed, without providing any evidence, that Ukraine is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Putin claimed in the speech that, before his invasion of Ukraine, Russia tried to have a legitimate conversation with other nations about European security.

However, he alleged, “the NATO countries did not want to hear us, which means that, in fact, they had completely different plans. And we saw it.”

This comes after the latest Russian atrocity in Ukraine; at least 60 are believed dead after an airstrike on a school in Bilohorivka. Roughly 90 people had been using it as a shelter.

However, Russia is no closer to controlling the country — and some of its troops are reportedly rebelling against their generals due to poor treatment, Newsweek reported last week.

“The supposed brewing rebellions among Russian soldiers in recent weeks highlight reports that the nation’s troops are suffering from low morale,” the publication reported.

“Additionally, while different groups and leaders have reported varying numbers of Russian troop losses, some counts claim more than 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. NATO estimated in late April up to 15,000 Russian troops had been killed.”