Thursday, December 13, 2007

You play to win the game

USSR is a mighty sports power!
B. Reshetnikov, 1962

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard for all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.

George Orwell, Collected Essays

After the WW2 the attitude to sport in USSR changed greatly. Before the War training was about building a better citizen and soldier. Now it became professional. The Cold War was at full swing and Stalin considered sport achievements as a perfect way to show the advantages and power of the communist state. The pressure was hard – to take part in the international competitions abroad the Sports Committee Head Romanov had to submit an application with the names of the athletes and personally guarantee their perfect results.

In 1952 the USSR first took part in the Olympic Games, held in Finland, Helsinki. The debut was lost – Soviet Union took home 71 medals (22 Gold) less then the USA’s 76 medals (40 Gold). Next year Stalin died, but the hatched of sports war was dug up already. Next Games (Melbourne, Australia, 1956) were won by USSR - 98 (USSR) to 74 (USA) overall medal score; 37 to 32 Gold medal score. The 1960 Games in Rome, Italy strengthened Soviet victorious reputation as the overall medal count was 103 to 71 and 43 to 34 in Gold count. The superiority was significant, - for instance, soviet gymnasts won 15 of 16 possible medals in women's gymnastics. The Games in 1964 were lost; the competition between the USSR and the USA continued, but the early sixties were always considered to be the golden era of Soviet sport.

The poster above shows a giant man, whose face was painted in a way to resemble the Olympic Torch. His hair is waving like fire. On his chest there are large letters saying “USSR”. The background is composed of the golden medals won in several sports disciplines: skis, weight-lifting, running and rowing. The slogan and the very dominating curve of the image add to the slogan at the bottom: “A Mighty Sports Power!”

Buy these sports posters at allposters!