June 23 - Russia plans to send a record team of 215 competitors to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the country's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced today.

They sent 177 athletes to the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year and 178 to Turin four years ago.

Mutko said: "We hope that 215 of our athletes will compete in 86 different competitions during the Winter Olympics in Sochi."

But Mutko warned that Russia needs to improve in several sports after its disappointing performance in Vancouver where they finished only 11th in the overall medals table with just 15 medals, three of them gold, which led to several leading officials losing their jobs, including National Olympic Committee President Leonid Tyagachev.

He said. "We must increase our abilities in sports, where we are obviously falling behind - freestyle, short track, snowboard, curling, ski jump and Nordic combined."

Canada were represented by 206 athletes in Vancouver, finishing top of the medals table with 26 medals, 14 of them gold.

That is the biggest team ever to represent the host nation in a Winter Olympics.

Italy had a team of 185 for Turin in 2006, winning a total of 11 medals - five of them gold - as they came ninth overall, while in 2002 when Salt Lake City staged the Games the United States were represented by 202 competitors as they finished third in the medals table with a total of 34, 10 of which were gold.

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