Maria Stepanova Won’t Play for Russia in 2012 London Olympics

Russia’s upcoming campaign in the 2012 London Olympics took a major setback after star Maria Stepanova was ruled out because of an injury.

Stepanova, who has been one of the key figures for Russia in past major tournaments, will be sidelined after sustaining an ACL tear during the Final Eight of the recently-concluded EuroLeague Women season.

“She'll need surgery and will have to miss the Olympics,” said team director Maxim Ryabov of UMMC Ekaterinburg, Stepanova’s Russian club.

The 33-year-old Russian star played in the last four Olympic Games, helping Russia bagged the bronze medal during the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics. She also led Russia to three European titles including last year, which gave them a spot in the 2012 London Games.

With Stepanova out, teammate Ilona Korstin admitted that they will have a big shoe to fill in, but they are ready to step up to make an impact in London.

“It’s very, very bad news for us and I’m disappointed for us, not only me but everybody – all of us in basketball,” said Korstin in an interview with FIBA.com. “I think now, we don’t have any solution but only to take a new player."

"We have some young players like Natalia Vieru or Ekaterina Lisina. Now, the young players have some more chances to come into the Olympic team and also show they are here and can help the team," she added.

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