By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

September 8 - Suggestions have begun to pour in for what should be the mascot for the Sochi 2014 Olympics and Paralympics following the launch last week of the nationwide public competition to pick a suitable choice.

Sochi ambassadors NHL legend Alexander Ovechkin, supermodel Natalia Vodyanova, Olympic medallists Oksana Domnina, Maksim Shabalin and Albert Demchenko, Paralympic champion Olesya Vladykina, popular singer Diana Gurtskaya and Sochi native Olympic medallist Alexey Voevoda have all made suggestions.

Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals and two-times world champion, thinks it should be a humourous choice.

"It won't surprise my fans that my mascot for the Olympic Winter Games is a sheep," said Ovechkin, whose name translates as sheep.

"A happy sheep with a hockey stick or on a snowboard."

Vodyanova, a Vogue cover model, has adopted a more serious tone.

"I hope the white tiger - a threatened species in need of our support - will become the Sochi 2014 mascot," she said.

"The Sochi Games are destined to become a major global event that will change public opinion on many issues, such as ecology and our attitude towards the natural world.

"My tiger would be majestic and gracious, not at all a toy-like animal.

"I’d ensure it borrows the Olympic Rings, just like the Moscow 1980 Olympic Bear - I was very fond of that.”

Shabalin, a world ice dance champion and bronze medal winner at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, believes that the mascot should be an animal with a kind and gentle appearance while his partner Domnina thinks that the mascot should be a dolphin which would personify Sochi's natural beauty.

Oksana said she would definitely "dress" her dolphin in figure skates.

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, is also a fan of the dolphin, although he would have it on skis.

"The dolphin best represents our city," he said.

"Sochi is a resort town that is both wintry and beachy."

The snowman, suggested as the mascot idea by Gurtskaya, the celebrated Russian blind musician, was drawn by her three-year-old son, Kostya.

Early suggestions from the public have included a "pac-man snowman" and a "zombie bunny" in a bobsleigh.

Demchenko, who won a silver medal in the luge at the 2006 Turin Olympic Winter Games, has proposed a "golden" fish which grants wishes to help bring many victories to the Russian team at the Sochi Games.

Alexey Voevoda, bobsleigh racer and two-times Olympic silver medallist, suggested a seahorse, hinting at the use of a pun in the Russian language, as the Russian word for seahorse sounds like the word for skate. 

Even those who are against the idea of Sochi hosting the Olympics have made suggestions.

"It seems to me that the idea of an Olympic Games in Sochi is a ridiculous idea," said Russian artist Andrei Logvin.

"So the mascot should be ridiculous as well."

Sochi are due to announce the winner of the competition - which will choose a mascot for both the Olympics and Paralympics - on February 7, 2011.

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