Everyone has been in 80 years, but they want to win

PD learned about the team of veterans in basketball of the northern capital

Without Kevordo

There is a unique team in St. Petersburg, which became the European champion ten times and won the world's silver medals five times – the basketball veterans team.

These men, but they do not turn their tongue to call them the old people, feel like a single team. Each match for them is a holiday, every training is a meeting with friends who have been together for decades.

Basketball for life

The founder and head of the national team of veterans, Mark Smirnov, told the PD correspondent that they all play basketball since childhood: “Many have played for the teams of universities and enterprises, there are those who have experience at a higher level – I played for the Leningrad Petrel In the USSR championship against the strongest teams of the country – CSKA, clubs from Tbilisi, Riga, Kyiv. In 1958, we took fourth place. It was a real student team, we all studied at LETI. Then Oleg Kutuzov, the future player of the USSR national team, the world champion, played for us. ”

Mark Smirnov in his youth became a master of sports, and already for successes in veteran competitions he was awarded the title of veteran master of sports and a master of sports of international class. “When we finished playing in ordinary tournaments by age, we began to gather for ourselves. In the late 1990s, the International Basketball Federation took up the holding of veteran competitions. At the first European Championship, the 60 Plus was the most senior category, we successfully played in it as a Russian team. Since then we have been playing regularly, ”said the head of the national team.

Petersburgers are now the basis of the Russian team, sometimes their friends from Moscow and Kazan join them. Years are going on, and now the team performs in the 80 Plus category, in Europe it has no equal, but it is not possible to win the world championships. “Veterans from the United States are very strong, we lose them a little. But our meetings at the world championships collect more journalists than players in both teams. For veteran matches, this is a rarity, ”admitted Mark Smirnov.

Originally from the blockade

In the basketball tournament of veterans dedicated to the 76th anniversary of the complete liberation of Leningrad from the blockade, only those who survived this terrible time on the Neva came out in the starting five of the St. Petersburg-80 team. “We have nine blocks in the team, however, not everyone could play now,” said Mark Smirnov.

Photo: A. Zemi/Petersburg Diary

One of the inhabitants of the besieged Leningrad, Yuri Petukhov, who worked as a radio operator in the polar stations in the Arctic and Antarctica in his youth, and then graduated from the first medical institution, who became a surgeon and operated on the patients for almost forty years, answered the question of the PD correspondent, is it dangerous to play in Basketball to people at such a solid age. “This professional sport with its huge loads is harmful to health.And how we train and play – physical education, and this is useful at any age. Sometimes, however, it happens that years make themselves felt. Once, the basketball player of our team became bad with his heart, the match was stopped, an ambulance was called, he was taken to the hospital, and assisted. Then he was undergoing a stenting operation, and now he feels normally, plays with us, ”said Yuri Petukhov.

Help Zhores Alferov

Now the St. Petersburg basketball veterans are training in the gym of the Alferov Center. The world famous scientist, Nobel Prize winner, Jores Alferov, helped the team a lot. Mark Smirnov said: “Alferov graduated from Leti, where many of us studied, we have been familiar with him since his student years. He himself loved basketball, sometimes he went to our veteran matches. When the anniversary of Zhores Ivanovich was celebrated in the Assembly Hall of Leti, our team congratulated him in his own way, on humor: they hung a basketball ring on the wall, of course, a little lower than usual. They gave Alferov a ball, and he with pleasure threw several times on the ring. ”

By order of Alferov, veterans were allowed to train for free, and after his departure, this permit was extended for another year. “Nobody finances our team. Although the city sports committee and the basketball federation are reported about our victories, but when we ask us to help, we get the answer that there is no money. At first, we went to tournaments at our own expense, and we ourselves bought a form, balls. Now we find sponsors, for which they are very grateful, ”the head of the national team said.