Russia is a keen sporting country, successful at a number of sports and continuously finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic games.

Among the most played sports are football and ice hockey.[1]

Other sports widely played in Russia include weightlifting, gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, martial arts, volleyball, basketball and skiing.


During the Soviet era the team placed first in the total number of medals won at 14 of its 18 appearances;[2] with these performances, the USSR was the dominant Olympic power of its era.[3] Since the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 and continuing today, the Soviet and later Russian athletes never went below third place in the world, in number and gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. The 1980 Summer Olympic Games were held in Moscow while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.

Ice hockey

Where football is played more as a pastime than professionally, Russia's ice hockey team has a long history of traditions and success, and today more than 70 Russians play in the NHL.

Winter sports

Figure skating is another popular sport; in the 1960s the Soviet Union rose to become a dominant power in figure skating, especially in pairs skating and ice dancing. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until the present day, a Soviet or Russian pair has won gold, often considered the longest winning streak in modern sports history.


Since the end of the Soviet era tennis has grown in popularity and Russia has produced a number of famous tennis players.


Chess is a favourite pastime, and a sport that has been dominated by Russians in the post-war (1945-) era. The winner of the 1948 World Chess Championship, Russian Mikhail Botvinnik, started an era of Soviet dominance in the chess world. Until the end of the Soviet Union, there was only one non-Soviet champion.

Rugby union

See main: Rugby union in Russia

Rugby union in Russia is a growing sport. Russia is ranked 19th worldwide by the International Rugby Board (IRB) [4] despite having less than 11,000 players nationally.[5] Russia has a professional domestic competition.

Rugby league

See main: Rugby league in Russia