MOSCOW, April 2 (Reuters) - Russia’s Olympic medal hopes in women’s basketball suffered a big blow when leading player Maria Stepanova was ruled out of the London Games with a knee injury.
The 2.02-metre centre will be sidelined for at least six months after tearing ligaments playing for club side UGMK Yekaterinburg in last week’s Euroleague tournament.
“She’ll need surgery and will have to miss the Olympics,” UGMK director Maxim Ryabov told local media.
Stepanova, 33, has played in the last four Games, helping the Russians to two bronze medals in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing four years later.
She has also won three European titles including last year in Poland where her country secured a spot at the Olympics.
The Russian women’s team are considered leading contenders for the London Games which start on July 27, along with United States and Australia. (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov, editing by Tony Jimenez)