Dick Fosbury
American high jumper Dick Fosbury bested Soviet high jumper Valentin Gavrilov at Mexico City in 1968. Image Credit: AP

Russia and the US have always been bitter rivals – whether in the Cold War, the space race or in foreign affairs. After allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, US-Russia relations have arguably deteriorated to an all-time low. And in the Olympic arena, it’s no different.

Click start to play today’s Crossword and identify the events and people involved in the decades-long Olympic tug-of-war between the two superpowers. Check out our special coverage of the events from the Olympic Games!

Both countries have been snubbing each other at the Olympics since the Cold War. The Americans did not show up at the Moscow Games of 1980, and the Russians skipped the next Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. And when they eventually did compete with each other, the players often displayed a strong vehemence to get the better of those representing the opposing country.

American high jumper Dick Fosbury, is an oft-quoted example of an athlete whose rivalry had historical repercussions. He bested Soviet high jumper Valentin Gavrilov at Mexico City in 1968, not just by winning a gold medal, but by surprising the world with a whole new style of high jumping. It became so popular that people still use today. Can you name it in 9-Across?

More recently, Russian players have had to contend with the stigma of cheating ever since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, when at least 15 Russian athletes and medal winners were found to be part of a state-run doping program.

The scandal had serious consequences. Did you know that in the Tokyo 2020 Games, the Russian contingent does not compete under the Russian flag? They do not compete using the country’s name, and their national anthem is not played after a gold medal win. Rather, they play under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). The reason is because the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the country from competing in international sports after the infamous 2014 doping scandal.

The Americans don’t let the Russians forget it. On Friday, When US gold-medalist swimmer Ryan Murphy lost out to Russian star Evgeny Rylov in Tokyo, he hinted that the 200-metre backstroke race was probably won unfairly, saying: “…I am swimming in a race that’s probably not clean.” His allusion to the 2014 incident caused the ROC to snap back on Twitter with the words: "Oh how our victories rile certain peers. Yes, we’re here, at the Olympic Games. Absolutely justifiably, whether you like it or not … You need to learn how to lose. Not everyone is able to. The old organ grinder again started playing the song about Russian doping.”

Ouch! Will the two countries rise above the name-calling and regain focus at the Olympic Games? Play today’s Crossword and test your knowledge of US-Russian sports rivalries. Let us know if you enjoyed playing the crossword at games@gulfnews.com.