Russian joy at gymnastics podium after doping turmoil

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2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Final - Men's Team Final - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08/08/2016. Nikita Nagornny (RUS) of Russia celebrates with team mates David Belyavskiy (RUS) and Denis Abliazin (RUS) after winning the silver medal in the men's team final . REUTERS/Mike Blake FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

RIO DE JANEIRO: An emotional Russian team were celebrating their podium return in the men’s Olympics gymnastics team event for the first time in 16 years after a chaotic buildup to the Games.

The Russian gymnasts were only cleared to compete in Rio by governing body FIG the day before the Olympics got underway amid the fallout of accusations of state-run doping against their country.

But they claimed silver behind Japan in the Rio Olympic Arena on Monday dumping two-time defending champions China into the bronze medal position.

“We won a medal (Olympic team) for the first time in 16 years. We feel overwhelmed by emotion,” said Denis Abliazin after taking his third Olympic medal after silver on the vault and bronze on floor in London.

The last time the Russian men’s team medalled at an Olympics was a bronze in Sydney.

“We did what we had to do. Everyone did his job on each of the apparatus,” continued Abliazin as Russia had led Japan up until the fourth apparatus of six.

“We are still trying to believe that we won a medal. We really performed well as a team, all for one and one for all.”

“When we performed we didn’t really pay attention to the other team.

“If you have doubts it won´t lead to good results. In gymnastics you are competing against yourself.

“At the last world championships China got third and we got fourth. At worlds we didn´t quite make it, but now we beat them.”

Teammate Nikolai Kuksenkov took his first Olympic medal at the age of 27 years.

“We were in a really difficult situation before the Games. We didn’t know if we would be able to compete,” he said.

“This performance by our team showed that we are really strong and that we can fight for the medals, even when others didn´t want us to do that.”

“We stayed positive and believed in fairness.”

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