‘We use the Universiade legacy, and this occasion ‘requires’ a celebration’

Vladimir Leonov reported on sports results in 2022 and tasks in 2023

The Tatarstan Ministry of Sport held a year-end meeting with Russian Sport Minister Oleg Matytsin who arrived in Kazan for the opening of the United Special Olympic Games. In this report, correspondent of Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff Jaudat Abdullin looked for hidden meanings in the words of republican and Russian sport top managers.

“A record number of medals were won at the Olympics”

The time difference between the pre-New Year’s eve event and the final meeting of the Tatarstan Ministry of Sport is very short this year, which is less than a month. This is why Minister Vladimir Leonov didn’t even have to prepare a new text. In fact, it was the same speech summing up 2022 with all its ambiguity that turned out very successful.

“A record number of medals were won at the Olympics,” Vladimir Leonov reminded the audience about five medals (four silvers and one bronze) of five athletes of Tatarstan that delegated athletes in eight Olympic sports to Beijing.”

In number of athletes, this result repeated the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 but then Tatarstan didn’t win any medals. Only after the Paralympics, two Sochi medallists, Marta Zaynullina and Rushan Minnegulov, are still on duty. But Leonov reminded people in the hall that in Beijing they could only to check in at the hotel from where they had to come back because Russia was banned from the Paralympics. Also, he noted that after that they won a big number of medals in other competitions the Russian Sport Ministry managed to quickly organise, though clearly this compensated only for the absence of competitive experience and allowed awarding the athletes.

Russian Paralympians who have missed the main competition of the winter four-year cycle shouldn’t be explained the history of our relationships with the West. Tatarstan also started to consider this story in a different way because 20 international competitions were cancelled in the republic.

Vladimir Leonov could consider the recognition of the water polo school as best in Russia as his personal victory because he graduated from it in the early 1990s by celebrating his graduation with a bronze medal in the country’s championship. He also talked about a big number of swimming pools in the republic — 281 and the opening of the 50th ice palace in Alexeyevskoye. Construction in sport won’t stop next year, the delivery of four venues and the same number of universal sports sites is expected.

One should hockey not only for performance but also for public interests

Sports veterans Nailya Gilyazova and Anatoly Bozin were among those who listened to the Tatarstan sport minister’s speeches among other participants in the first row. And they were presented state awards reminding them Lake Placid in 1980, the Winter Olympics in the USA that were held during anti-Sovietism. So now Lake Placid is now receiving athletes, but this time it is the Winter University Games, while life-changing talks with Gulf countries are looming ahead, including on the pricing policy on oil products.

The political management of the USSR started to play hockey super series against Canada that was almost the first to impose an embargo on wheat sale on us just 40 years ago. So now Russia’s political administration set up relations with both Saudis and the Emirates and we aren’t playing hockey with Canada but representatives of the Islamic world, which seems to be more productive in the future. Somebody will remember a helicopter with Igor Levitin that landed on a football pitch in Iran, while some will remember agreements on the construction of a railway linking the two countries... Others will laugh at female hockey players in hijabs, while some will note a number of documents on the oil, chemical and other sectors signed between presidents Rustam Minnikhanov and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

We could leave Leonov’s words that several sports events were included to the programme of Russia — Islamic World forum unnoticed if not the scale of KazanForum 2023: Economic Partnership in Modern Realities. Perhaps, all the above-mentioned will not be mentioned from the pulpit but nobody will impede from staying tuned and drawing your own conclusion.

“This year must give us a chance of demonstrating our strength in the implementation of projects we scheduled”

One could see in the news that Vladimir Leonov was again talking about top clubs noting that “there was a resetting at our clubs. The goals are ambitious. For Ak Bars, it is of course reach the playoff and fight for the Gagarin Cup. As for Rubin, we hope it can return to the elite of Russian football at the end of the season.” But to be fair, the sport minister started the monologue about these sports with a message that Zilant handball team that became the 19th team of the republic in the country’s championship was recreated. Moreover, not the top club but summer hockey players who have won the champions title for the 20th time, KOS-Sintez that won all the competitions last season, Zenit Kazan volleyball club that won the Russian Cup for the 11th time and legendary KAMAZ-Master have notable successes.

So it turns out that the top clubs had victories when they were in the limelight creating an amazing slogan: “Kazan is a capital of champions!” But let’s be honest, huge money had to be spent to achieve this goal, which is unprofitable for the republic that at one point seriously started to develop summer Olympic sports and then winter disciplines. And amid the current international political situation is unfeasible. And here one should listen to Vladimir Leonov’s another statement he didn’t focus but briefly noted that Tatarstan had a branch of the Russian Union of Martial Arts including 25 wrestling styles. But it is not only about athletes’ combat spirit but also cultivation of patriotism.

Hopefully, the events dedicated to the Summer University Games in Kazan 10 years ago will cultivate patriotism.

“The unique, big, the best in history,” Vladimir Leonov was profuse in compliments and underpinned his emotions by enumerating the legacy of the University Games: 32 sports venues, a sports and educational cluster including the Universiade Village and Volga sports university, the new airport and railway station, 11 transport hubs...” “We use this all now and I think this event ‘requires’ celebration.”

It is hard to disagree with Vladimir Leonov’s words. Moreover, one can “rehearse” the 10th anniversary of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 with all of its legacy. 2022 made up happy with a silver Olympic medal of ski jumpers where Irma Makhinya from Krasnodar Krai who came to ski jumping mainly because a trampoline was built was in the Russian mixed team together with Leninogorsk-born Danil Sadreyev.

So preparing to raise the glasses Kazan could be interested in the issue: how many champions the 32 Universiade venues have provided and how many specialists the sports university has trained. It is both a celebration and the benefit, and exhibits to a collection of announced Sports Museum that is planned to be located at Ak Bars Arena stadium.

Before the start of the meeting, Russian Sport Minister Oleg Matytsin paid tribute to Russian swimming champion Dmitry Usov laying flowers to a memorable plaque that was opened at the sports university after the graduate of Volga University of Sport and Tourism died in the special military operation in Ukraine. In his short speech, Mr Matytsin in fact summarised what his local colleagues said, but the end of his speech draws our attention: “I am sure that this year must give us a chance of demonstrating our strength in the implementation of projects we scheduled.”

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.

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