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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends, good afternoon. I am very happy to see you, and I hope that you will also enjoy yourselves – after all, this is a special place.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your outstanding, simply triumphant performance at the Winter Universiade. I know that you have just returned from Turkey and I wanted to see you, to express my deep gratitude not only as President of Russia, but also on behalf of your many fans – your admirers who see your performances as a symbol of our future victories.
I would like to express gratitude not just to you, but also to your entire training staff – all your coaches, medical specialists, and everyone else who supported the Russian team, including everyone who rooted for you here and in Turkey.
It is true that our nation really rooted for our team. We saw how selflessly you performed, how well you fought. And of course, the most important feeling among the fans is pride. I believe that it is a common effect: when you see a Russian athlete performing well, you are happy for him or her, and then you feel happy for the entire nation, and ultimately, every individual projects this success partially toward themselves. And perhaps that is the most powerful, compelling aspect of sports: when one person’s success becomes an entire nation’s success, and therefore, spreads out to all of us.
For reasons you are all aware of, we have been feeling anxiety concerning some major victories: we did not do very well last year; while we had some stellar performances in certain areas (we don’t want to take away any glory from those who did well) we also had some very difficult periods – I am referring, first and foremost, to the [Winter] Olympics. But even in the first days of the Universiade, the Russian team was clearly in the lead. Ultimately, the team ended in first place, having won 38 medals, including 14 gold, 14 silver, and 10 bronze. And this is the highest result among all participating nations.
Naturally, you upstaged some strong opponents, and I hope you will say a few words about it today. But what is nevertheless important is that you did this just ahead of our Universiade, which we will host in Kazan, and significantly surpassed our earlier achievements at similar sporting competitions. The medals you won demonstrate the enormous athletic potential in your sports, because you are all at the beginning of your athletic careers, and yet, you are already experienced athletes. Naturally, this is particularly important in the run-up to the Universiade in Kazan, and certainly, the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Preparations for the Universiade in Kazan are going very well. I have addressed this matter repeatedly, I have visited Tatarstan several times, and I saw the facilities being built there. For now, it all looks very solid. I am certain that we will be excellent Universiade hosts, and it will be memorable for all who participate in it – the athletes and the fans.
On the other hand, this will allow us to develop our sports infrastructure, which is imperative if we are to create new opportunities, many of which will serve the future of our nation and the Tatarstan Republic, the host region for the Universiade, in addition to creating additional opportunities for engaging in sports.
I also want to say that I’m certain your athletic careers will be filled with many more victories. And I hope that I will have another chance to congratulate some of you on your outstanding achievements in the future, recognising your athletic merits through state decorations.
I wish all of you success and sincerely congratulate you once again.
Following our meeting, you will have a chance to tour the Kremlin, because I imagine that some of you have never been here before. This is a symbolic place; it is the site of international meetings and receptions, domestic events, and wonderful meetings such as the one we are having today.
I am truly glad that you are here today, at the Kremlin, because it is a symbol of what I said earlier. Russia has really been, and will once again be a strong, athletically powerful nation, even in spite of any local hardships.
I wish you success in everything – not just in athletics, but in your personal lives as well, and in your education and all your other undertakings. You’ve done a job!