Prime Minister Vladimir Putin conferred state decorations on members of the Russian ice hockey team
Vladimir Putin's address:
Russian hockey players are used to awards. I am glad and honoured to confer Russian state decorations on you today for your outstanding victories of recent years.
Our team has won world championships for two years running, and has thus earned and confirmed its reputation as the best in the world. You have given millions of Russians the joy of victory and pride for their country
Thank you very much.
As we know, ice hockey demands courage, willpower, personal skill and team spirit. You have all of these.
Hockey is making progress in our country, as proved by your victories and the victories of our national junior team and other youth teams. One of the most important characteristics of this progress is that millions, or at least hundreds of thousands of children and adolescents are taking up hockey, which ensures that there will be a replacement for our present-day stars.
Not only you, but also the entire Russian Olympic team is beginning to prepare for Vancouver. Next year's Winter Olympics will be held in the birthplace of ice hockey, which means that the hockey tournament there will be especially intensive.
It is no exaggeration to say that millions of Russians will be glued to the television as your fans. They will wish you success and take pride in your victories.
We wish you every success. Congratulations.
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Congratulations on receiving national awards once again. This is what I want to say in conclusion: all hockey fans and fans of other sports-there are millions of them in Russia, as you know-want you to win, and all admire your talent and your creativity, because sports involve creativity
We feel the greatest joy-many will agree with me, I am sure-to see the dedication with which you defend the national colours of our flag and the courage you display on the hockey field. Thank you. Congratulations!