After the competition, Mr Medvedev presented the cup to the winners of this first presidential regatta – rowers from St Petersburg.
Speaking at the award ceremony at the Strela rowing centre, the President noted that it is not by chance that this competition – the first of its kind in Russia – is taking place in St Petersburg, as it was here that the history of rowing as a sport began in Russia.
Mr Medvedev also presented state decorations to rowing sports veterans marking the 150th anniversary of rowing sports in Russia.
On the same day, the President visited the Zenit-Arena soccer stadium currently under construction. The stadium is being built to the latest UEFA and FIFA standards, will have capacity for 68,000 spectators and be equipped with a sliding roof and field.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the 150th anniversary of rowing sports in Russia. We have come up with a fine event with which to mark this occasion – the President’s Regatta. I hope this will become an annual event. It gives us a chance to do some summing up, recognise the best, and quite simply draw attention to rowing, which, I think, has not received all the attention it deserves. Personally, I think rowing is important as a sport and I hope that this event will therefore provide some support and serve as something of a symbol. And so I congratulate you all on both of these events.
It is not by chance that this competition is taking place in St Petersburg. Not because we love this city, which for some of us is our hometown, but because it was here in St Petersburg that rowing as a sport began in Russia. As you all are no doubt aware, the Nevsky Flot rowing club, which opened in St Petersburg in 1718, nearly 300 years ago, is considered to be Russia’s first rowing club. We know that Peter the Great drew the row boats’ designs himself, and, at the club’s opening, said something that I think remains important to this day: “All of this we are doing in order to teach our loyal subjects to have no fear of any sea”.
Russia does indeed have excellent traditions in rowing sports. Our rowers have won various international competitions, championships and Olympic events. St Petersburg is the undisputed leader in terms of victories, thanks to the glorious traditions that began here. I hope that St Petersburg will continue to hold this place of pride. Of course, it would be good to see people from other cities also perform well, and I cannot pretend that this would not make me happy too. I therefore wish success not only to those who live and train in St Petersburg, but to everyone involved in rowing sports throughout our country. St Petersburg has already produced 11 Olympic champions and dozens of world and European champions, and that is a real achievement, of course.
We just watched the finals of the Russian President’s Cup. The competition was very real, very tough. All of you who took part deserve thanks because this was a real competition, not a decorative event staged in honour of important visitors, but a competition that let you show your mettle and give the best of yourselves. I have no need to say just what physical endurance, and strength of will and spirit this kind of competition requires. All of you here know this very well yourselves.
I hope that those taking part today will continue to demonstrate their sporting abilities to the fullest, and we will be behind you all the way with our support.
I offer my sincere congratulations to all of the winners and to everyone who took part in this regatta. I think the event has got off to a good start and I hope that it will make an effective contribution to developing rowing in our country. I think it is time now to award the cup. Let’s do this now.
Now we come to an important moment. I want to present orders and medals to those who have brought glory to Soviet and Russian sport, writing memorable pages in the history of rowing in this country with their outstanding victories and the records they have set.
Dear friends, your achievements have already been recognised with Olympic gold medals and medals won at the world and European championships. You fully deserve the state decorations that I present today for your outstanding performances and sporting achievements.
I signed quite a big executive order on state decorations marking the 150th anniversary of rowing sports in Russia. I hope that people involved in other sports will not feel left out. When other anniversaries come round we will pay tribute to their achievements too. In this respect, the order I signed is unprecedented. It recognises our highest achievers, our greatest veterans. I will name only a few of those receiving decorations today, and I ask those who I do not name not to feel offended. You have all done well.
I want to start by naming the first Soviet world champion, the legendary Vyacheslav Ivanov, who won three Olympic golds. Mr Ivanov today receives the Order of Friendship for his great contribution to developing and popularising rowing sports. Also decorated today are two-times Olympic champions Alexander Timoshinin and Yury Tyukalov, who won our country’s first Olympic rowing gold in 1952.
Preparing for this event I learned that Mr Tyukalov in fact received his first medal in 1943, when he was just 13 years old. This was the Medal For the Defence of Leningrad. He is not only an outstanding athlete but also a talented trainer who has trained a number of our best rowers – world and European champions – and he is a well-known artist too.
Incidentally, the Strela rowing centre was restored partly through his initiative. I looked around before and saw that the centre offers very good conditions for training and sports events. There are some problems with the water. We are aware of this. I discussed this with our colleagues and with the governor. There is not enough water and you end up having to train in somewhat cramped conditions. But at least we have something to begin with, and we will work on building better conditions for other facilities too as possible. I am sure that, whatever the problems, we can only grow from here, and the presidential regatta will help with this too. We already have our plans now, as you know, and I will keep watch on all of this work.
Also receiving state decorations today are St Petersburg trainers Nina Lagutina, Lyubov Grigorova-Rudykovskaya, Mikhail Feodoridi, and many others who have made and are making a contribution to training our athletes.
I want to say a few words to all of you receiving decorations today. I offer you my sincere congratulations on these decorations, and I am very happy to be presenting them right here at the waterside. This is not the Grand Kremlin Palace, of course, and does not have the same ceremonial feel, but it is an even greater pleasure to present these decorations to you here. I propose now that we begin presenting the decorations.