Nikolay Olyunin (second from right) celebrates on the snowboard cross sprint podium in Feldberg, Germany ©RIOU

Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) Rector Professor Lev Belousov has congratulated Nikolay Olyunin, a student on RIOU’s flagship Master of Sport Administration (MSA) course, on becoming one of the first-ever winners of a snowboard cross sprint event last week.

Olyunin, winner of the snowboard cross Olympic silver medal at Sochi 2014 and gold medallist at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, pipped Olympic champion Pierre Vaultier of France to the line in Feldberg in Germany.

The Russian enrolled on the MSA course in September 2015 and has had to juggle his studies with leading the International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard Cross World Cup standings.

"On behalf of everyone at RIOU, I would like to offer my congratulations to Nikolay on his wonderful achievement and I wish him all the best for the remaining races in this season’s Snowboard World Cup," said Belousov.

"It is extremely rewarding to see one of our students fulfilling his sporting ambitions while still being able to apply himself academically and stay dedicated to his course commitments.

"The University prides itself on attracting students from all different backgrounds, especially sporting ones, and Nikolay is proof that you don’t need to put your athletic dreams on hold when you attend RIOU.

"I hope Nikolay’s achievements can be a source of inspiration for many future students at RIOU."

Nikolay Olyunin won a snowboard cross silver medal at Sochi 2014
Nikolay Olyunin won a snowboard cross silver medal at Sochi 2014 ©RIOU

Olyunin is joined on the third edition of the MSA course by fellow elite athletes, including Russian shooting champion, Anastasia Kitaeva and European taekwondo champion Gamid Mamedrzaev.

The MSA programme aims to provide students with the strategic and operational management skills needed to succeed in today’s sports industry while studying and living in an environment which is conducive to their needs.

"When I was doing my first degree at Krasnoyarsk Pedagogical University, I had to take a lot of time off coursework, because I was training and competing," said the 24-year-old Olyunin.

"Now I’m kind of making up for that.

"And I find it so incredibly interesting.

"My fellow students are great people, and our teachers are top class experts in their fields, coming from best universities in Russia and across the world.

"There are no Olympic Games or World Championships in this season, so I decided to come here and focus on studying and self-development.

"RIOU is a unique university, in the first place, and, secondly, Sochi is a fantastic city."

Olympic champion Eva Samková of the Czech Republic came out on top In the first race held under the new format in Feldberg.