''We had no hesitation in choosing Kazan as host city''

Piece from the opening ceremony of the next world sports competition in the capital of Tatarstan

''We had no hesitation in choosing Kazan as host city'' Photo: Mikhail Kozlovsky

Participants of the 14 th World Wushu Championships arrived in Kazan on 28 September. The world championships in such sport are a rare thing not only for Russia but also all Europe: the capital of Tatarstan has been only the fourth European host of such a tournament. Realnoe Vremya tells the details of the wushu Mundial's opening in Kazan.

Tatarstan capital was faster than Paris and Warszawa

Kazan got the right to host the world wushu championships in a fight with such European capitals as Warszawa and Paris. So the Tatarstan capital became the first Russian and only fourth European city to host this kind of world championships. All the previous championships were held in Asia, and the next global wushu exhibition will be in Chinese Shanghai. Russia knows the name Kung Fu better, though in very Asia it is just a synonym of the word fighter's mastery.

In Russia, wushu is not developed seriously, though Kazan celebrated the 30 th anniversary of this movement this year. A desire to popularise this sport in our country can be safely assumed as the main reason for the choice in favour of the Tatarstan capital. What is more, Russia is almost the only country that is able to field a team that can compete with Asian squads on a constant basis. So, our country ranks fifth among more than 50 participating countries after 13 world championships.

Meanwhile, the organisers stress that the current competition will gather a record number of countries and participants. The Kazan Gymnastics Centre was going to host over 800 athletes from 57 countries. The participants will compete in two principal wushu events during five days: contact fight (wushu sanda) and performance (wushu taolu). Tatarstan's representative Ilyas Khusnutdinov who has many awards of the highest calibre under his belt is one of the strongest athletes of Russia.

''So the whole world will know that there is a city that loves and propagates wushu''

The starting press conference of the tournament officials took place one day before the opening ceremony: International Wushu Federation Vice-President Anthony Goh, International Wushu Federation Technical and Event Manager Martha Burr, Russian Wushu Federation President Gleb Muzrukov and Tatarstan Minister on Youth Affairs and Sport Vladimir Leonov. The guests thanked the Tatarstan administration for the tournament's good organisation and warm welcome of the participants of the championships.

International Wushu Federation Vice-President Anthony Goh (centre) and Russian Wushu Federation President Gleb Muzrukov (right) took part in the press conference. Photo: mdms.tatarstan.ru

Anthony Goh noted that thanks to this tournament the entire world would speak about Kazan again. According to him, the whole world is waiting for these championships to begin. And the whole world came to Kazan to participate in the tournament. So the whole world will know that there is a city that loves and propagates wushu, he said.

Vladimir Leonov was not slow to promote Tatarstan athletes.

''Pupils of the Tatarstan wushu school got the highest awards in Russian and international competitions many times. Our Russian, European and world champion Ilyas Khusnutdinov will also compete together with the national team of Russia, so local spectators will have a person to support,'' he noted.

It will be interesting to look at the attendance of the championships. It is difficult to guess how much Kazan fans will like wushu competitions. But one thing can be said for sure: more people visited the opening ceremony than it was expected – the organisers urgently needed to take two huge banners away from the stands.

The opening lived up to all expectations

The spectators who gathered in the hall probably did not regret coming to the Gymnastics Centre in that evening. Few people doubted that Tatarstan would be able to organise a bright opening ceremony after staging big world competitions. But what people saw lived up to all expectations.

Elements of Tatar and Russian traditions were added to the bright show that was linked with the East anyway starting from a fight against dragons to national songs and dances. The visual part changed into welcome videos with the most famous views of Kazan. Then athletes from China with special weapons (swords and sticks) appeared in bright costumes with exhibition performances.

After the bright show, the hall filled with athletes from 59 countries of the world

Later the participants of the competition were invited to the stage, and the hall filled with athletes from 59 countries of the world. The spectators welcomed the national teams of Russia, China and Brazil with more noise, so don't surprise if Kazan starts speaking Chinese or Portuguese in the next days.

Then the officials headed by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and IOC Vice-President Yu Zaiqing appeared on the improvised stage.

'Chinese wushu is the source of all the martial arts'

Rustam Minnikhanov opened the championships. He welcomed all the people who gathered there and wished the athletes good luck in Tatar.

''I sincerely welcome you in the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tatarstan, in our capital, the city of Kazan. I wish you a pleasant, successful competition and good stay. I hope very much that both the athletes and officials of the International Wushu Federation will like Kazan. Kazan is always open, and we will be glad to hold different wushu competitions. Welcome! Thank you!'' the Tatarstan president said.

In turn, Yu Zaiqing noted the good organisation of the event and thanked the republic's officials.

The IOC vice-president said the athletes who prepared for the competition hard and sacrificed a lot to be there to enjoy every moment of the championships because they were the heart of the competition.

Rustam Minnikhanov opened the championships

Gleb Muzrukov reminded about merits of Russian officials and wished spectators interesting fights.

''An interesting phrase 'Chinese wushu is the source of all the martial arts' belongs to Vladimir Putin. Thanks to the support of our country, we managed to make our long nurtured dream real – to hold the world championships in our country. We had no hesitation in choosing Kazan as a host city. We perfectly knew that Kazan with its amazing infrastructure and hospitality was the sports capital of Russia. Thanks to all the organisers of the competition, I say many thanks for their efforts. I wish the athletes good luck and spectators – unforgettable spectacle,'' Murzrukov concluded.

The ceremony continued by Ilyas Khusnutdinov's oath on behalf of all the athletes where he promised fair play. And Aleksey Nosach assured fair refereeing on behalf of all the referees. Then representatives of the Russian squad gave exhibition performances whose gimmick consisted of breathtaking fights with sharp swords – blindfold and to a Tatar song. The opening ended with a performance of vocal and dance groups who performed their compositions in the Tatar and Russian languages.

By Zulfat Shafigullin. Photo: Mikhail Kozlovsky. Video: Kamil Ismailov