In no time at all, the world will become quite acquainted with a bevy of wonderful athletes who will captivate Winter Olympic fans with their amazing stories as much as they will with their remarkable athletic prowess.
Alexey Voyevoda (sometimes written Alexei Voyevoda) is one of those Olympians.
NBC Olympics' Nick Zaccardi offers a wonderful profile of a hulking figure some Americans might not be familiar with. We are referring to Sochi native Voyevoda—a man who competes as a bobsledder and a professional arm wrestler all while maintaining his vegetarian lifestyle.
Voyevoda holds the distinction of winning a silver medal in the 2006 Olympic Games held in Turin, Italy (four-man bobsled). He most recently helped secure a bronze for his country in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada (two-man bobsled).
All that's left is the elusive gold that would cap off an already prolific athletic career. Besides playing a big part on the bobsled team, Voyevoda can also do some damage in the arm wrestling circuit.
When it comes to locking hands and showing off his might in arm wrestling, the man who weighs a reported 115 kilograms (about 254 pounds) is a three-time world champion.
Here is an example of what he can do:
And here is a video you can watch, which does have the option of English captions:
Arm wrestling is far from a passing interest. Voyevoda explains:
Arm wrestling is a very serious thing. Many more countries practice arm wrestling than bobsleigh. I plan to return to arm wrestling after the Sochi Games. I have many options.
Arm wrestling has helped me a lot in my bobsledding career. My role on the team is to stop the bobsleigh. I do this with the strength I have acquired through arm wrestling.
At this point, we wouldn't be surprised if he just carried the bobsled down the hill.
If you are wondering how someone becomes so strong, perhaps you should look to conquer some nearby trees. The bobsledder offered to Tétrault-Farber, "I grew up in the mountains and I would always climb trees with the other children. I was the fastest of the little tree-climbing monkeys. That is how I became strong."
Voyevoda goes on to say that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi hold a special place in his heart, not just because he would love to see a renewed sense of urgency from Russian citizens to delve into athletics, but because he grew up in the host city.
But the most intriguing aspect of the athlete who also featured in 2009's documentary Pulling John is that he has been a staunch vegetarian for two years. Not only that, but he proclaims to fuel up on solely water for breakfast.
So you can pretty much forget any preconceived notions you might have about the body frame of a vegetarian.
When it comes to the Sochi Games, Voyevoda has more than just winning gold medals on his mind.
"My role as one of the ambassadors of the Games is to promote sport, to encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle."
As Tétrault-Farber writes, only a quarter of Russians regularly enjoy any amount of "physical activity." Voyevoda is hoping a couple of weeks in the spotlight for Sochi will turn into a wealth of change when it comes to the health of his countrymen.
The world is about to enjoy what we hope will be a wonderfully successful Olympics in Voyevoda's backyard. We just wouldn't suggest challenging him to arm wrestling or any amount of tree climbing.
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