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DOING SOME DIGGING In Siberia

Perhaps, like me, you have been watching highlights from the Olympic Games on television this week. The maximal eff...


Perhaps, like me, you have been watching highlights from the Olympic Games on television this week. The maximal efforts of superbly trained, competitive young people, when only one can come out the winner, makes for compelling viewing.

My interest is somewhat enhanced by the fact that I toured southern Siberia in June of this year, gathering information about the Russian Aluminium company for an article in the August issue of Canadian Mining Journal. While we members of the foreign press learned something about aluminum smelting, we learned a lot more.

One of the more interesting stops was at a large gymnasium and judo club in Bratsk that had been built with the support of the company, for the benefit of local children. Three teenaged boys put on a demo of their judo skills on the mats, under the watchful eye of the coach, who told us that some top athletes had trained in this facility. The boys were pretty good, and looked like they could really hurt someone if they wanted to.

What interested me more was the reaction of the young Russian journalists on the tour. While the western journalists squatted on benches or stood by the wall, some of the Russians took to the mats and did somersaults, and chin-ups on the bars.

At another stop by a dam near Sayanogorsk, a couple of young Russian womena translator and a journalist-scrambled way up a rock cliff to precarious spots, without benefit of good running shoes or hiking clothes just for the fun of it. Not so the westerners.

It seemed evident to me that the Russians had a child-like love of physical exercise that the rest of us lacked, and I admired them for it.

So as I watch the Olympics, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the Russians, particularly the Siberians, and thinking that maybe we in Canada should be doing more sports rather than watching them.


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