KEMEROVO, Russia, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Italian Ezio Gamba will stay as chief coach of the Russian judo team until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after agreeing to extend his contract with the national federation on Monday.
“We’ve discussed it for some time but it has become official - now I’ll coach both the men’s and women’s teams for the next four years,” Gamba, 53, told reporters during the Russian national championships in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.
Since being appointed coach of the men’s team shortly after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Russia failed to claim a single medal, Gamba has overhauled the national team set-up, helping the Russian men to win five medals, three of them gold, in London this year.
One of the most memorable sights of the Olympic tournament was that of an ecstatic Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a black belt judoka, embracing Tagir Khaibulaev after he won his country’s third gold in the 100kg weight class.
“Two weeks ago Vladimir Putin asked me to train the girls also,” said Gamba, who won a judo gold for Italy at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
“I will try to re-build their programme as well. I think the Russian women could win at least three medals in Rio in 2016.” (Reporting by Marina Maiorova; writing by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Clare Fallon)