ys, I'll gladly answer your question. Up until about 10 years ago, I did not cheer for Russia or the Soviet Union in sporting events. In fact I rooted against Russia. But once the breakup occured, I started to follow Russia and it's athletes closer. I read a New York Times article on Anna Kournikova in February of 1992, about her move from Moscow to Bradenton. In Bradenton, Anna would have the opportunity to train in with the best facilities in the world. She did have have that opprtunity to train under such great conditions in her homeland.
That's when I began to look at the Russian athlete in a different light. I used to see the Russian/Soviet athletes and teams as the so called "bad guys". But once I understood how hard life was for them and nearly all Russians, I changed my views on Russia. I started to view Russians as underdog athletes and Russia as an underdog country.
In the 1980's, I really liked the Swedes!
Classy and wonderful players! I especially liked Stefan Edberg. And I always rooted for him to beat everyone. Including American players!
And I'm not ahamed to say that I rooted for Sweden over America in the Davis Cup Ties they had. It's only tennis afterall!
After Edberg retired in 1996, I was looking for a new favorite player. And there she was, Anna Kournikova, making her grand slam debut at the 1996 U.S. Open. At that time I really didn't pay much attention to women's tennis. But Anna changed all that. I even started rooting for Chesnokov and Kafelnikov, too.
In my eyes, the once mighty Russia was now an underdog in the sports world!
And I started to root for Russia in all sports in the World Championships and Olympics. The Cold War was over. My all time favorite sports memeory is the Miracle On Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics when the underdog American Hockey team pulled off a monumental upset to beat the great Soviet hockey team!
But that was then. And this is now. I am quite attracted to Russian history and culture. And I want to see Russia as a country improve it's quality of life in our lifetime!
Naturally America comes first for me as a country. But I don't mind hoping that Russia has a better future than it seems to have.
I even rooted for Russian athletes and teams in the recent Olympics. I rooted for Irina Slutskaya to become the first Russian woman to win figure skating gold! But she let it slip away, and Sarah Hughes won the gold. I rooted for a Russian over a fellow Long Islander!
And I rooted for the Russian hockey team over the American team. This is only sports. And the Cold War is long over. The Miracle On Ice can never be replace or duplicated! But that was a long time ago. And the once mighty Russian/Soviet spots factory was decimated.
From Kournikova to Kafelnikov to Safin and Dementieva, I root for the Russians first and foremost in tennis. I like them as people, and they a very mediocre tennis history that I want to see developed into something special!
Naturally I like Kournikova, Dementieva and Sharapova the most. Safin drives me crazy! But I really like the big guy!
I generally like Russian athletes. Pavel Bure is a favorite of mine. Sergei Fedorov, too. And a number of Track and Field athletes, too. And Wrestling great Alexander Karolin might be the most impressive champion athlete and person that I have ever seen!
And I like Russian models, too! I think they should being doing better as a country producing top Fashion Models. I mean Russian women are quite beautiful! Yet small countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia produce more top models than Russia does. And that perplexes me.
And I rooted for Miss Russia to bw the first Russian women to win the Miss Universe Pageant. And she did!
The fact is ys, I enjoy rooting for Russian athletes! And Russia as a country. Fifteen years ago I never thought this would have been possible! But it has happened. In my eyes, Russia is now an underdog country in alot of trouble ecenomically and healthwise. I hope the situation improves. But unfortunaltely that's not likely anytime soon.
One of my favorite Russian athletes is Elena Zamolodchikova. I rooted for her so hard in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. And when she didn't come through for Russia in the Gymnastics team competition, I wanted to cry for her because her Father had died earlier in the year. But then she came through to win 2 indivdual Gymnastics gold medals for Russia. I was so happy for her!
I don't know if I made myself clear. I have had 2 glasses of White Wine tonight!
But I tried to express myself intelligently and coherently.
Inetresting question ys. I hope I gave a good answer!
P.S. - I hope Rick Macci has not hurt Katia Afinogenova's career!
Whoever told her to quit the juniors made a big mistake!
I hope Katia can recover from that.