Portrait of Ovechkin as a young man
Why did Alex Ovechkin's mother, left, allow him to play hockey?
"He's very athletic guy," she told Sovetsky Sport, in a translation provided at Russian Machine Never Breaks. "He'd be able to stick up for himself in any game. But he watched a lot of hockey in his childhood, constantly ran with a stick inside our home. He was always in motion, his eyes glowed always. Since he started to walk, Sasha is the most passionate fan of Dynamo Moscow in any sports."
There's a fuller translation of the interview at Alex Ovetjkin, with many more details about his mother's life, including why she chose the number 8:
When I first started with juniors in Dynamo, they began to put me with the older group. I almost did not play with my age. I immensely liked one basketball player, Vladimir Zinman. He played under eight. I was in love with him as an athlete! How awesome he played! He was a luxury playmaker. I still haven't seen anyone equal to him.
He was older than me by two years. I went to all the championship games in Moscow where Zinman played. And when I started playing I asked for the number eight. Since then the eight has always been with me, starting with juniors and ending with the Olympic team.
So D.C.'s current Great 8 fixation is because of Vladimir Zinman, of all people; a man who's basketball career is un-Googleable. It's a fascinating interview with Mama Ovechkina, but never mind all that; the photo transfixes. Magisterial. I can just see the little lad running off after Alyosha at the end of the Brothers Karamazov. Or skating, I guess.
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