A topic for discussion has appeared in Russian sports – the retirement age of athletes. At a recent meeting of the commission of athletes of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), two-time world volleyball champion Yekaterina Gamova and Olympic medalist freestyler Sergei Ridzik proposed lowering the retirement age for athletes. Like, they have been working since childhood, spending almost all their time training, and also putting their health at risk.
As it is easy to guess, the idea caused a mixed reaction.
What is the retirement age for athletes?
If in the USSR there was a practice of early retirement of athletes and their coaches, then after the collapse of the Union, it sank into oblivion. In Russia, athletes do not have any privileges in terms of retirement age, therefore, like everyone else, they leave at the age of 60 (for women) and 65 years (for men). Before the pension reform of 2019, the age was 55 and 60 years, respectively. Curiously, then almost all the athletes in the State Duma voted for the introduction of changes, only Vyacheslav Fetisov did not vote, and Valery Gazzaev spoke out against it.
How much do retired athletes get? In general, pensions for athletes are formed in a special way. It consists of an insurance pension, which all citizens of Russia receive, based on the length of service and average salary, a presidential scholarship and other additional payments.
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So, for example, the insurance pension of an athlete in St. Petersburg, according to data for 2022, ranges from 7,120 rubles to 18,080, depending on achievements. The presidential scholarship has a constant amount of 52 thousand, it is received exclusively by Olympic champions. Since 2018, the presidential scholarship has been paid to both silver and bronze medalists of the Olympics, however, the amounts there are more modest – 24 and 18 thousand, respectively. A plus may be various payments for state awards and other achievements.
“The number of matches for the national team is not related to the size of the pension. I have a pension of about 30 thousand, – said the ex-football player of the USSR national team Evgeny Lovchev “Match TV”. – The Union of Veterans helped me with registration, and I receive an additional 18 thousand for the title of Olympic medalist from Moscow and 30 thousand from the country, from Putin. This is already more than 70 thousand rubles – a pretty decent amount. But many do not know about these allowances – and I did not know, I accidentally found out. This should still be known to the athletes.”
Photo: RIA Novosti
What did Ridzik and Gamow offer in general?
Sergei Ridzik and Ekaterina Gamova also proposed lowering the retirement age for athletes. According to the authors of the idea, there are a number of reasons for this. The first is that athletes begin to train in early childhood, doing without days off and holidays. The second is that sport is inextricably linked with injuries and health risks.
In fact, Ridzik and Gamowa want the same privileges for athletes that miners, firefighters, doctors, teachers, rescuers and others enjoy. In total, 21 categories are listed in the federal law. Each of these groups of people must have a certain length of service or reach a specific age in order to retire early. In the law of the times of the USSR, for example, the same conditions were prescribed for athletes.
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“Pensions for sporting achievements and length of service are assigned with a total work experience of at least 20 years to Honored Masters of Sports of the USSR and Masters of Sports of the USSR of international class who have been on the staff of teams of masters for at least 10 years, including in the national teams of the USSR, or at least six years as part of the national teams of the USSR, ”the law said.
The head of the commission of athletes of the ROC, two-time Olympic champion Sofya Velikaya, noted that the members of the commission as a whole reacted with approval to the idea.
“The question was supported by many athletes who were present here, I am talking to them. We, as a commission, will take part in bringing it to the leadership of the ROC and the Ministry of Sports, ”said Velikaya Match TV.
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Photo: Edgar Breshchanov, “Championship”
In fact, the proposal to change the retirement age for athletes is not new. This issue comes up for discussion from time to time. So, for example, in 2015, Tatiana Navka spoke about the need to reduce the retirement age to 35-40 years. State Duma deputy from the LDPR Boris Paykin, who supported the idea of Ridzik and Gamova, explained that now it is planned to reduce the retirement age of athletes to 40-45 years.
How did the athletes themselves react to the idea?
True, outside the commission of athletes of the ROC, opinions on whether it is worth lowering the retirement age for athletes or not are divided.
“In ballet, people retire from the age of 35, which, in general, is correct,” Tatyana Navka explained to R-Sport. – There is a certain age after which physiologically the body responds differently to all problems than at 20 years old. In my opinion, athletes should also retire after 35 years of age. The maximum deadline is 40 years. Definitely after 35 years, the body begins to feel the injuries that have been received throughout a career. The topic of post-sport rehabilitation is very important. How many people with disabilities, how many injured and crippled high achievements in sports! I would raise the issue of the retirement age of athletes.”
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“I am very positive about this initiative, because athletes do not spare their health and strength,” said Irina Viner, head of the WFHG. – Real athletes who show high results, who raise the Russian flag at international competitions. They “not sparing their lives” achieve results not only for themselves, but for the whole country! Therefore, when they finish their sports career, they have some health problems. The fact that the question of reducing the retirement age has now arisen is absolutely right! Therefore, lowering the retirement age would be a good solution. Up to what age to lower? The downgrade itself would have been a great achievement.”
But there were also those who did not appreciate the idea of lowering the retirement age at all. The main mouthpiece opposing was the Olympic champion Alexander Legkov. He even managed to seriously quarrel with Sergei Ridzik.
Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”
“I don’t really understand how athletes differ from miners, teachers, doctors and representatives of other professions,” Legkov said. – We already have very noticeable support from the state. Many athletes are military personnel and receive a retirement pension. There are grants from the Russian Olympians Support Fund, there is a privileged opportunity to get a second education. You can go to work as a coach, sports functionary or develop in another area. Are these bad conditions?
The sport is over – I forgot about the victories and went on. All these titles are your baggage, like a superpower or an extra life in a computer game. Won something – handsome, it will only help you in life. But it will help if you use it correctly, and not sit and wait that since you are an Olympic champion, then everyone owes you. Take the medal off your neck and work. Nobody owes you anything!”
Legkov reacted to the words of Ridzik, who said that Alexander had no place in the ROC commission
A similar opinion was expressed by the coach of the Russian ski team Yegor Sorin.
“I’m against it. Everyone should be on an equal footing. How are athletes different from people who work in a factory? I’m a former athlete and don’t feel like I need to retire early. So I don’t see the need for it. Perhaps those who offered feel that they need it. But at least I don’t want to retire early,” Sorin told Match TV.
It is not yet clear whether the idea of lowering the retirement age will go further and whether any changes will be adopted. But it is obvious that now athletes have taken care of this topic more seriously than before.