In all, 270 people took part in the meeting: 163 athletes, their coaches, doctors, masseurs, and sign language interpreters.
The Russian team will take part in 12 events at the London Paralympics: athletics, swimming, table tennis, judo, archery, wheelchair fencing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball (men), academic rowing, cycling, football for people with cerebral palsy, and cycling (road, track) for people with impairments to their legs, arms and trunk.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
The XIV Summer Paralympics are about to open soon. Today, at the Kremlin, we are holding the official send-off for our national team. As we do so, we are confident, of course, that our athletes will, as in the past, delight us with memorable and successful performances and represent our country worthily at this, one of the biggest sports events of these last four years.
Taking part in competition of this level is a great dream and honour for any sportsperson. We know that the competition will be fierce and intense, but we are sure that all of you here today are ready for the challenge.
”Support for Paralympic sport is an integral part of our overall effort to address the issues faced by people with disabilities and create a genuinely comfortable, accessible and barrier-free environment.“
We see how rapidly the Paralympic movement is developing, how the number of participants is growing every year, and the programme is broadening. It is enough to recall that more than 300 new world records were set at the Beijing Paralympics, and it was especially pleasing to see that almost one in two athletes in the Russian team won a medal. Almost one in two!
I particularly emphasise that our Paralympic team’s performance is getting more successful. This is good reason to be proud of you, and of course it also highlights the need to support the Paralympic athletes and everyone with disabilities who wants to play sports. Let me stress today that the authorities will continue this support.
You no doubt know that our national sports development programme has a section focusing particularly on people with disabilities. Of course, we have made some extra efforts lately to support high-level athletes such as yourselves, and I imagine you see the results of this work, but looking at the overall situation, we still have many problems to address of course. Our objective is to have 10 percent of people with disabilities involved in sports by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020. At the moment, only around 1.5 percent take part in sports activities, and this is an unacceptably low figure of course.
But let me say in this respect that your example is just the kind of inspiration that can prove contagious and provide the motivation for millions of others to take up sports, develop their potential, and not limit and close themselves off. I am sure that your impressive performances at the Paralympics will help us in achieving our objectives and that you will provide a positive example for millions of people.
I note too, that our support for Paralympic sport is an integral part of our overall effort to address the issues faced by people with disabilities and create a genuinely comfortable, accessible and barrier-free environment for full participation in life and developing one’s individual and creative potential. I firmly believe that it is extremely important to work intensively on developing the Paralympic movement. The movement’s humanist foundation can play an essential part in cultivating social and moral responsibility and maturity in people, especially young people. The unique examples of personal courage and strength of will that the athletes provide help to affirm the principles of equal and decent opportunities for all citizens.
”Your example inspires and gives hope to millions. In developing yourselves you are not only breaking down age-old stereotypes, but are opening new horizons, demonstrating true courage, and showing how strength of spirit and character can prevail over circumstances.“
You know better than anyone else that any big and worthy undertaking requires tremendous effort and persistence, and that it is not possible to solve every problem overnight. But we are genuinely committed to working hard and consistently, actively drawing the regions and local authorities into these efforts. We count too on your involvement and the positive experience you can share with your ability to successfully achieve the goals you have set. As I said, your example inspires and gives hope to millions and has tremendously high value and effectiveness. In developing yourselves and your sporting abilities you are not only breaking down age-old stereotypes, but are opening new horizons, demonstrating true courage, and showing how strength of spirit and character can prevail over circumstances. Each stage in your progress and each of your achievements deserves particular attention and respect. We will always support you, and we will be cheering for you with all our hearts, not only in London, but in all other events and competitions in which you take part too. You truly deserve this attention, and I want to know that millions of people here will be following the competition in London on their TV screens. I wish you success with all my heart!
Thank you very much for your attention.