Press Release: On July 20, 2012 the Russian Minister of Sports V. Mutko signed the decree [translation] to name 12th World Chess Champion Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk “Well-Deserved Sports Master of Russia” (in Russian “Заслуженный мастер спорта”), which is the highest title awarded by the State in honor of sporting achievement. The news came out on the site of the Russian Chess Federation [translation], on the Izmailovo Center page, and congratulations are flowing on Alexandra’s Russian Twitter page @kosteniuk.
The title can be awarded for the following achievements:
- 1st-3rd places at the Olympic, or Paralympic Games in individual or team competitions;
- 1st place at the World Championship, World Cup, European Championship or European Cup;
- As an exception — “for an outstanding contribution in promotion of Russian Federation and Russian sport at the international level, for displaying exceptional courage and mastery.”
Very few people in the Russian sporting world have ever received this honor. The title was created [translation] in 1934 in the Soviet Union as the highest honorific title for sports, much more difficult to achieve than even “Grandmaster”, which is the highest FIDE title given to top chess players. See the list of 22 sports people who got the award in 1934 (only one chessplayer: Romanovsky).