Chelyabinsk and Omsk are the latest stops on a road tour by prominent
Russian athletes in support of the 10th anniversary of the ‘Russia –
Country of Sports’ Forum. The road tour is being organized by the Russian
Ministry of Sports and RC Sport, the sports platform of the Roscongress
Olympic speed skating silver medallist Olga Fatkulina handled the stage
in Chelyabinsk. She showed off a skating cluster comprised of Ural Lightning
Ice Arena, a new short track centre as well as a museum that contains unique
artifacts from the world of ice skating. “Back at the start of the century,
Russia didn’t have a single indoor arena for skaters with artificial ice, and
the opening of Ural Lightning, named after the legendary Lydia Skoblikova, was
a breakthrough event for our sport. It’s great that a building appeared near
the short track a few years ago,” she said.
Fatkulina also said that she was ready to compete against a car on the
ice of Lake Baikal as part of the traditional speed festival. “Skating on such
an enormous space where there aren’t any walls or other restrictions is
interesting. There is an idea for a showdown to see who is faster on ice – me
or a car. Not everything is as clear as it seems, because I pick up speed much
faster. Our sport truly lacks promoting and elements of a show. Such competitions
could draw attention to speed skating,” Fatkulina said.
Two-time Olympic sports shooting champion Vitalina Batsarashkina served
as the tour guide for the sports facilities of Omsk. She gave a tour of the
only Olympic standard cycling track beyond the Urals, which is currently
hosting international cycling competitions. “This is a unique facility that
organizes the training process for various sports and also holds competitions.
For example, a tournament is held here on a cycle track for the prizes of
another two-time Olympic champion from Omsk – boxer Alexey Tishchenko. A modern
martial arts centre is nearby. Gymnasts also have a new centre – Irina
Chashchina, Yevgenia Kanayeva, and other famous athletes grew up in Omsk. I
would like to take this opportunity to ask the authorities for a new sports
complex for sports shooters,” Batsarashkina said.
The two-time Olympic champion also visited G-Drive Arena, which will
open on 1 October. The new arena will be home to the Avangard hockey team and
also serve as an entertainment and cultural centre for residents of Omsk.
Avangard and Gazprom Neft signed an agreement on the naming of G-Drive Arena
this summer at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The road tour in Omsk also featured the opening of the ninth open-air
sports grounds designed by mixed martial arts star Alexander Shlemenko. “My
goal is to make sports accessible and to have such venues in every district of
our city. We initially focused more on athletes, but then we realized that we
need to think about children as well. I have five children myself, and I
understand perfectly well that it is not always possible to leave them at home.
So, in addition to exercise equipment, we put in a sandbox and swings, so that
it would be interesting for children. Such family leisure time is probably our
know-how,” Shlemenko said.
Russian Minister of Sports Oleg Matytsin kicked off the road tour on 22
September. Three-time Olympic synchronized swimming champion Alexandra
Patskevich oversaw the Moscow stage. Tokyo 2020 artistic gymnastics champion
Lilia Akhaimova and Olympic Games participant and basketball player Victor
Keyru visited Nizhny Novgorod. Olympic cross-country skiing champion Alexander
Legkov handled the stages in Kazan and Ufa, where he was joined by Olympic
volleyball champion Maxim Mikhailov and Tokyo 2020 champions Nikita Nagorny,
Artur Dalaloyan (both artistic gymnastics), and Adelina Zagidullina (fencing).
On 28 September, two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling winner Roman Vlasov will give
a master class in Novosibirsk as part of the road tour, which will then move on
where the ‘Russia – Country of Sports’ Forum will kick off its 10th