- © RIA Novosti. Artem Zhitenev
© RIA Novosti. Artem Zhitenev
MOSCOW, February 27 (R-Sport) -Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday handed out the keys to a fleet of brand new Mercedes as prizes for the country's Olympic medalists at the Sochi Winter Games.
Russia finished a wildly successful home Olympics, which closed Sunday, at the top of the medal table with 13 golds, 11 silver and nine bronze for a historically high total of 33.
In a ceremony at Vasilevsky Spusk next to Red Square, Medvedev congratulated 44 medalists and distributed the keys. Three classes of Mercedes were on offer for the three medal colors.
"I was a bit shocked at the car I was given," said biathlete Anton Shipulin, part of Russia's gold-winning relay team. "Of course I knew what kind of model it would be, but I didn't totally believe it," he said. It's Shipulin's second car from the Russian state after winning bronze in the same event in Vancouver four years ago.
The cars come on top of prize money: Gold medalists have been promised $120,000; silver medalists $76,000; and bronze medalists $52,000.
Russia exceeded all expectations by topping the medal table for the first time in 20 years. In the process, it laid to rest the failure of Vancouver 2010, when it won just three golds in a performance universally denounced as a national disaster.