Russian ice hockey star Alex Ovechkin heads into the “biggest tournament” of his career ready to embrace the pressure and dearly wanting to claim a gold medal on home ice at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Ovechkin, who is the face of Russian hockey, says this tournament, his third Olympic Winter Games, is special for him as it will be the first where he will have the chance to play in front of family and friends.
“It is going to be my biggest tournament,” Ovechkin said on Monday after his first practice session with his Russian team-mates at the Bolshoi Ice Dome arena.
“It is a home Olympic Games so it is my biggest moment,” he explains.
After suffering a 7-3 quarter-final defeat to Canada at Vancouver 2010, where they ended up finishing sixth, Russia is determined to take care of some unfinished business in Sochi.
Their much-vaunted team is now looking to become the first Russian team to win gold since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
“You can compare the Sochi Games to Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010),” Ovechkin said. “Turin was my first Olympic Games. I was 19 and it was new for me and it was crazy.
“In Vancouver we played against Canada and that was a crazy moment and right now I am playing for my country at home. This is another crazy moment.
“I am pretty sure you can ask any Canadian guy what the biggest moment for them is and they will tell you it is when they play for the national team.”
Ovechkin, who plays his club hockey in the USA, for Washington Capitals, says that now that it is his turn to experience an Olympic Games in his home country, he plans to enjoy every second.
“I am not getting any younger and this is my third Olympic Games,” he reflects. “You never know what can happen or what is going to happen. You just have to enjoy your moment and enjoy your time.”