|Belarusian athletes have excelled in Olympic sports,
especially gymnastics. Vitaly Shcherbo, one of the world's best gymnasts,
is Belarusian. He is a six-time Olympic gold medallist and the winner of
14 world championship medals. Gymnasts Nelli Kim and Olga Korbut are also
from Belarus. Korbut won three gold medals and one silver at the Olympics
in 1972 and 1976 (where she competed for the USSR). The two strongest men
in the world, weightlifters Alexander Kurlovich and Leonid Taranenko, are
Soccer is very popular in Belarus. The country's most successful soccer team is Dinamo Minsk. It plays in a large modern stadium and often hosts international matches. During the off-season, the stadium is used as a marketplace.
|Belarus has many traditional Russian country homes, or dachas. For many families, dachas are both a tradition and a necessity. Because of food shortages, people use their country properties to grow fresh vegetables. Many large dachas that were used by high-ranking Soviet officials have been transformed into vacation resorts or spas. People also go to the forest reserves to camp or hunt in the forest reserves. Fishing is another popular activity; the lakes and rivers provide an ample supply of fish such as carp and pike.||
|With five months of snow a year, cross-country
skiing is a popular activity. In summer, the country's many lakes provide
beaches for swimming, sunbathing and picnics. The communal bathhouse, or
banya, is a distinct feature of rural Belarusian life. Traditionally
made of wood, it stands in the open near a lake or river. Inside is a wood-heated
stove. People throw water scented with mint leaves or beer onto the hot
stove to create a fragrant, steam-filled atmosphere. To encourage perspiration,
people slap themselves with birch leaves tied together in a bundle. Afterwards
bathers jump in the river or roll in the snow.
Cards and dominoes are favourite pastimes. People often gather in parks for games of chess and checkers. Belarusian children, like children everywhere, amuse themselves playing hide-and-seek, hopscotch, king of the hill, and tag.