There are several scenes in Rocky IV that show Ivan Drago working out in a state-of-the art gymnasium. It looks like it has all the amenities an athlete could want (forget about the steroids he was taking for a second). The gym is big and shiny, and has all kinds of new machines. It was probably the best of its kind in the Soviet Union around 1985.
Well, after reading this story from Michael Schwirtz of The New York Times today, I am convinced that Russian Olympians are probably training in the same gyms that Drago did over 20 years ago.
The good thing for them is that the Russian government finally has started funneling money back into the country's athletic programs.
Fears of losing Olympic ascendancy have impelled Russia to spend the last several years pumping billions of dollars from its oil-soaked coffers into rebuilding an athletics infrastructure left to rot when the Soviet Union crumbled.
While several new facilites are starting to pop up in Russia, it's still doesn't seem like enough for some people.
“Very few training centers are being built,” said Gennady V. Shvets, head of the Russian Olympic Committee’s press department. “Everyone for some reason is building these large, complicated, architecturally beautiful complexes that take a large amount of money. These have little utility for athletes.”
It will be interesting to see how the Russians fare in the upcoming Olympics. Will the lack of modern facilities hurt them? Personally, I doubt it. Rocky ended up beating Drago at the end of the movie, and he trained in the mountains. If he could do it without all the new equipment, so can the Russians.
- Ivan Drago