Épée from champion to president, awards from Minnikhanov to athletes
We remember our successes at the Tokyo Olympics
On Tuesday, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov honoured 2020 Tokyo Olympic medallists. Zenit Volleyball Club, Sintez Aquatics Club and all the fencing community of the republic are among the laureates. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
“You demonstrated determination, professionalism great sports prowess”
The athletes, coaches and specialists who gathered in the Kazan Kremlin are the cream of Tatarstan sport, which was silver and gold. Anyway, four silver and one champion arrived in Kazan from Tokyo. She, Marta Martyanova, had the honour of delivering a return speech in front of the president of the republic and giving him a present — a fencing mask and an épée. Mr Minnikhanov was interested in the sports weapon from the beginning, tested the sword, found out that the blade of the épée was absolutely safe, he was immediately filled with sports enthusiasm.
Though at the beginning the president looked tired. To compare, we remember his speech after the home 2014 Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi when even our Paralympians’ medals couldn’t compensate for the discontent about the absence of Olympic medals. “You won’t buy us off with this money,” Minnikhanov joked when accepting memorable Olympic medals from ex-Sports Minister Marat Bariyev.
While now the mood was so good that the sports management of the republic even let itself miss the president’s reception. It is necessary to go on holiday taking advantage of a short break between the Olympics in Tokyo, the Games of CIS Countries and numerous international competitions Kazan will host till the end of the year starting with a football march between the national teams of Russia and Slovakia on Friday. Also, it was necessary to remind the international stage about Kazan, since head of the ministry Vladimir Leonov was on a business trip in Dubai participating at Expo 2020 where he delivered a report Sports Kazan: The Title of the Russian Sports Capital. The name, of course, is ambitious, more deserved during the previous times, though you cannot argue when it comes to Sintez Aquatics Club, for example. It is not even the sports capital, it is a metropolis on the water.
This is why others listened to Minnikhanov’s pleasant words: “I want to congratulate you on the successful performance at the Olympics in Tokyo. Though the competition was held a year later, you demonstrated determination, professionalism great sports prowess. Thanks to your performance, the sports industry of Tatarstan received greater recognition on the international stage,” Mr Minnikhanov showered them with compliments.
Now Tatarstan’s swimming team has five candidates for the European Championships. Yegor Kiumov is a sub
By the way, together with the Olympic male and female heroes, those who also made a big contribution to these victories were invited to the Kremlin too: former head coach of Zenit Vladimir Alekno, master of Kazan fencing Ildar Shaymardanov, swimming coach Sergey Tarasov and manager of team Tatarstan Alexey Kuznetsov who told our newspaper about the competitions Kazan will be busy with in the short run.
“The Short Course Worlds start here first, then the European Championships will be held. Then swimming to move to Saint Petersburg where the nationals will take place, all of them are short course competitions. The nationals will be a qualifier for the world short course championships, which will in the Emirates and end it.
Also recalling that our strongest swimmers have lately participated in commercial competitions, we will note with satisfaction that they will finally have a super-intensive competition period that should compensate for their forced holidays during the pandemic. The pandemic, by the way, made amendments to the qualifier for the European Short Course Championships in Kazan in November where athletes will compete after the country’s nationals in 2021, which was in 50-metre swimming pools. Welcome to the post-pandemic world where people qualify for last year’s European Championship according to this year’s nationals in the habitual 50-metre swimming pools.
As for Tatarstan swimmers, we wait for Veronika Andrusenko and Grigory Tarasevich, Eduard Valiakhmetov and Renata Gaynullina as well as the old hand of our swimming team Alexander Krasnykh on the Russian national team. In the case of some refusals, the team can become bigger. For instance, Yegor Kuimov from Sintez sports club is on the waiting list. We should remind you that Antion Chupkov announced his retirement (suspension) as early as at the Olympics in Tokyo. Perhaps, some of today’s team members will set their priorities for the season differently and will want to compete only at the world championships. In any case, we expect the performance to be as good as in 2016 when Krasnykh won all medals — gold, silver, bronze — and returned Tatarstan to the swimming world map after Yana Martynova’s successes. Krasnykh himself isn’t sure that we “can repeat” the result at the world championships, but he is ready to compete at home and shared that both Yevgeny Rylov and Ivan Giryov are ready to come to Kazan together with all Russian swimming stars who have approached world leaders in the last few years.
Artur Akhmatkhuzin: “The victory turned out both hard-earned and heroic”
By the way, during the athlete’s award ceremony, it might seem Minnikhanov would have problems with pinning super-high Artyom Volvich’s award, but there was a pause when he awarded Maxim Mikhailov Mr Minnikhanov had honoured multiple times earlier. There was a person among the awardees who wasn’t familiar to our fans. It turned out that this person we have heard, seen a lot, it has been written about him less than he is worth, it was Olympic champion Artur Akhmatkhuzin. The 2016 Rio Olympic champion in the épée team event now trains the main Tatarstan hero of the 2020 Olympics Marta Martyanova. Again, exclusively for Realnoe Vremya, the champion and Marta’s coach shared his impressions of his student’s victory and memories of his own success five years ago.
“I want to congratulate Tatarstan on the victory of local student Marta Martyanova, the victory turned out to be both hard-earned and heroic, which increases its value and pleasant feelings of the win. I am glad as a coach I lived up to the expectations of the management and national coaches chaired by Ilgar Mamedov and the management of the Tatarstan school with Ildar Shaymardanov. At first, we couldn’t even think about this victory in our wildest dreams, but therefore the medal was hard-earned that Marta qualified competing with the country’s best épée fencers while the national team already had the skeleton that successfully performed together in many world and European championships. Changing something in such a team was a big risk, but Ilgar Mamedov ran the risk, and it justified itself. Moreover, Marta has improved a lot in the last year and defended her right to be on the national team after direct elimination bouts.
As for the Olympics, because of the pandemic the coaching staff of team Russia seriously reduced, and I watched Marta’s all bouts at home, worrying very much. The worries are different from those when you are on the piste. You can let off steam there, but sitting in front of the screen you have to accumulate these emotions inside. I constantly chatted with Marta, supported her as much as I could. She wasn’t on the national team for team events, and we accepted this situation thinking that Marta was going to the Olympics to gain experience that would help her in the future. At the same time, she was always ready to be on the piste. This is why her appearance in a semi-final with the American wasn’t a surprise. Another thing is that the injury in the final against the French athletes was a shock for us. It turned out that five years ago when our men’s team where I performed competed with same France, they decided to change one of the épéeists so that he would also get the gold medal. In the end, he got a medal but a silver one because we managed to change the course of that bout. While in Tokyo, the situation could have been completely different, but Marta performed her task 100% with a tone of heroism despite the injury. I will repeat that everything ended with the victory, both hard-earned and heroic. Before the next Olympic three-year cycle, as a representative of the coaching staff of the Russian national team, I claim that we count on Marta very much. On the one hand, she is very young, on the other hand, she needs to prove the legitimacy of the Tokyo success.”
The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.