August 2 - Four-time Grand Slam winning tennis superstar Maria Sharapova has been named as one of Samsung Galaxy's brand ambassadors ahead of Sochi 2014, in a list otherwise littered with star Russian names from Winter Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Sharapova, who has won a total of 29 singles tournaments on the women's tour and a silver medal at London 2012, in addition to winning all of the major titles in Australia, France, Wimbledon and the United States, is the headline name on the list.
The 26-year-old from Sochi will work to promote sporting and Olympic ideals as well as helping raise awareness for Samsung's sponsorship of the Games in her hometown.
Sharapova had played a major role helping Sochi during its successful bid, most memorably when she played an exhibition match on the eve of the final vote in 2007 against schoolchildren on a specially constructed tennis court in the shadow of Tower Bridge in London.
The project is a legacy programme successfully pioneered during London 2012, where 11 British athletes and 10 Italians were a part of Team Samsung, in addition to the footballing legend David Beckham.
The scheme will be one of Samsung's key initiatives around the Sochi Games, aimed at promoting the Olympic Movement and providing "direct contact" between Olympians and their supporters around the world.
Ice hockey star Evgeni Malkin, named best player when part of Russia's victorious team at the 2012 World Championships, has been named as the head of the ten athlete ambassadors chosen.
"To be part of the team is a great honour," said Malkin, who plays in the National Hockey League for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"For me, sport is not just about training, victories and titles: it's an opportunity to promote a healthy way of life and demonstrate through personal example that any dream is achievable if only you make the effort and believe in yourself.
"I'm sincerely grateful to Samsung for the invitation to join its team and am certain that the company's advanced technologies and campaign will help to bring sport into every home."
Malkin and Sharapova will be joined by two 2010 Winter Olympic champions in cross country skier Nikita Kryukov and biathlete Evgeny Ustyugov, along with six-time Paralympic cross country skiing and biathlon champion Sergey Shilov.
Completing the list are figure skaters Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, winner of the gold medal at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games at Innsbruck in 2012, and Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who this year lifted the World Championships pairs title in London in Canada.
They are joined by short track speed skater Tatyana Borodulina, a four-time European champion, Liudmila Privivkova, a member of the Russian team that won gold medals at the 2006 and 2012 European Curling Championships, and Serafim Pikalov, who is hoping to compete at the Paralympics in snowboarding, a sport due to make its debut on the programme in Sochi.
The announcement of the Russian athletes will be followed by the selection of top athletes from 16 other countries over the next few months.
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June 2013: Russian Olympic ski champion unveiled as Samsung athlete ambassador for Sochi 2014