May 30,2014(ISN) – Russia’s two-time Sochi 2014 gold medallist Alexander Zubkov has been injured after intervening to prevent attackers armed with baseball bats from vandalising his car. Zubkov, awarded the rank of Major in the Russian army following his success in Sochi, was left hospitalised with an injury to his wrist and additional small wounds after clashing with the unidentified assailants in the courtyard of his home in Moscow last night.
Attackers smashed the lights and windshield of his Mercedes-Benz, given by the Russian state to each of the country’s gold medal winners at Sochi 2014, and the 39-year-old was assaulted when trying to stop them inflicting more damage.
A criminal investigation has now been opened by Russian police.
Zubkov claimed afterwards both his grandfather and three-year-old son witnessed the attack, before speculating the car may have been deliberately targeted because it has large stickers identifying it as one of the vehicles presented to medal winners.
Zubkov, who also won four-man silver at Turin 2006 before taking bronze in the two-man bob at Vancouver 2010, was already one of his country’s biggest winter sporting stars ahead of the Games, and had the honour of being Russian flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.
He subsequently exceeded all expectations by piloting the Russian team to the gold medal in both the two-man and four-man events, making him one of the biggest home heroes of Sochi 2014.
As well as the Mercedes, he has received a string of other houses for his success, including the prestigious “Order For Merit to the Fatherland 4th class”, personally awarded to him and five other leading Russian athletes by President Vladimir Putin.
But the period since his success has not been completely without controversy after it emerged former German world champion Manuel Machata had privately lent his personal sled to Zubkov for a fee ahead of the Olympics.
While the Russian went on to use the sled to win his two gold medals, Machata was banned for a year by the German Bobsleigh Luge and Skeleton Federation (BSD) for “harming national interests” by lending equipment to a key rival.