He made his way to the USSR national team from a working village, surprised scientists with his health, and became the hero of the Olympics. CSKA legend Tsygankov

Maxim Samartsev The defender has had an amazing career. Gennady Tsygankov was a hockey player with incredible strength and power. His hockey fate is unique: playing in the fourth strongest league in the USSR, he made a giant leap in development at one moment and earned an invitation to the strongest team in the country – CSKA. Sport24 tells the story of the famous defender.Getting into CSKAThe future defender of the national team spent all his youth in the port of Vanino in the Khabarovsk Territory – when Gennady was just born, his father was transferred there to serve. Hockey in those parts was represented by one team called “Vodnik”, which was coached by the head of the commercial department of the port, Valentin Vitkar. This club became the first stop of our hero on the way to the top. Tsygankov’s success was almost impossible to predict: in his early years he did not grab the stars from the sky, and at the age of 19 he went to the army altogether. However, six months later, the young man was pulled out by Nikolai Golubev, who at that time headed the Khabarovsk SKA. Gennady’s new team was one of the strongest in class B in the Far East zone, but it never managed to reach the third league. And if it were not for the championship of the Armed Forces, which took place in Khabarovsk, then our hero would not have had a chance to break into big hockey. “It was not Anatoly Tarasov who found Tsygankov, but CSKA defender Alexander Ragulin. Tarasov did not look for anyone at all: they delivered to him. Ragulin noted him at the championship of the Armed Forces: tenacious, tough, young. I recommended it to CSKA and Tarasov took it,” recalled the famous Soviet journalist Vsevolod Kukushkin.RIA NovostiTsygankov’s partners said that in everyday life he was modest, but on the ice he became arrogant and uncompromising – he wanted to emerge victorious from every single combat, and often he succeeded. It was thanks to his character that the rookie of the army was able to become one of the leading Soviet defenders.ConcussionsThroughout his career, the tough defender has accumulated 9 (!) concussions. In today’s hockey, it is likely that a player with such a rich history of such serious injuries would not have been released on the ice at all. But in Soviet times, there was a completely different medical support, so the players and coaches were not familiar with the dangerous consequences of concussions. Former CSKA defender Alexei Kasatonov said that Tsygankov often complained of headaches, and over time he even managed to get used to them. “Tarasov was a tough coach and was not very worried about the health of the players. Then there was no equipment to deeply investigate such injuries as Gena’s. And the players themselves treated themselves coldly: “Well, it will hurt and pass,” said Kukushkin.Heroism in InnsbruckOur hero quickly won a place not only in the base of CSKA, but also in the USSR national team. But if Tsygankov failed to prove himself at the first Olympics in his career in 1972, then after 4 years at the Olympic Games in Innsbruck he really shone. One episode went down in history, which became decisive for our team at that tournament. In the middle of the second period of the decisive match against the Czechoslovak national team, two players of the Soviet team went to the penalty box at once – Sergey Babinov and Viktor Zhluktov. By that time, our guys were losing with a score of 0:2, and one more missed puck would actually mean defeat for them. Gennady Tsygankov, Vladimir Shadrin and Yury Lyapkin took to the ice and courageously defended the gates of their team for two minutes. The Czechoslovak hockey players also realized the importance of the moment, so in two minutes of the majority they had three fives, and the onslaught and activity at the gates of the USSR national team were at an outrageous level. But the trinity led by Tsygankov did not allow creating dangerous moments at the gates of Vladislav Tretyak. Gene in the game with the Czechs fully showed his brutality. Running into him is like hitting a brick wall. The attackers were afraid of him. They knew: this one does not iron, it cuts harshly, ”said Kukushkin. The rest of the players of the national team were inspired by the success of their partners and managed to turn the tide of the meeting, snatching a victory with a score of 4:3 and thus winning the Olympics.Possessed good healthTsygankov could not boast of great talent, fantastic technique or perfect skating. He took others – toughness, diligence and a great desire to be the best in every shift. However, Gennady had another significant plus: he had a fantastic capacity for work and physical strength. For this, the partners even called him the Mazandaran Tiger and Taiga. Once, even scientists appreciated the outstanding physical data of the CSKA defender. Employees of the complex scientific group arrived at one of the training sessions at the base in Kudepsta, who took with them special devices for measuring oxygen consumption during exercise. They were respirators that were connected by a tube to bags of durable rubber. The task of the players was to run at the pace set by the scientists. Whoever has more oxygen intake will act more efficiently on ice than the others. CSKA hockey players had no doubt that Tsygankov would win this impromptu competition – he regularly proved his heroic strength not only in the gym, but also on exercise bikes. However, Gennady managed to surprise everyone: he inflated his bag to such a state that it burst at a certain moment. Scientists were amazed by what they saw.RIA Novostidoping scandalInterestingly, in the gold match against the Czechoslovak national team at the Innsbruck Olympics, Tsygankov might not have played. After a crushing victory over Austria at the start of the main four-year tournament, doping was discovered in the leading defender of the USSR national team. Subsequently, it turned out that this case was a pure mistake of the medical personnel who served the Olympic Games. Due to constant concussions, Gennady took a stimulant that improved blood circulation in the body. The national team doctor Oleg Belakovsky sent a written warning to the doctors about Tsygankov’s situation, but the letter was lost, so before the match against the United States, the leader of the Soviet team could receive a solid disqualification for doping. In the end, the situation was resolved: Belakovsky put pressure on the local medical staff, who nevertheless managed to find a lost letter and amnestied the defender of the USSR national team.Getty ImagesDied of cancerDuring his playing career, Tsygankov could boast of good health. However, after leaving professional sports, it began to seriously let him down: first, the two-time Olympic champion faced prostate cancer, and then suffered from bone cancer. Long-term chemotherapy had a detrimental effect on the liver, and the condition of the illustrious defender worsened. Then Gennady decided to give up all pills and other attributes of traditional medicine. And to the surprise of doctors, this approach gave a positive result: soon the content of cancer cells in the body of our hero decreased. Tsygankov went on the mend. However, on February 15, 2006, something happened that all the relatives of the Soviet defender were afraid of. At about two in the morning, after watching the lost match Russia – Slovakia at the Olympic Games, the six-time world champion died. Doctors said his death was instantaneous.

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