President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends.
I am very pleased to welcome you here at what is our first such very representative meeting. It makes me happy to congratulate you personally on your brilliant recent successes.
You have defended our country’s sporting honour well at the biggest world competitions and I thank you from all my heart for your great results, your will to achieve victory and your personal courage.
Your achievements have a special significance. They show just what immense spiritual and physical potential people have, how great are our strength and our possibilities. Through your example and your attitude towards life, you teach people to overcome difficulties and never give in. You strengthen people’s belief in themselves, giving even people with no physical challenges reason to believe in themselves. You strengthen all people’s belief in their own abilities.
All your medals were won in honest and tough competition. And each of them is the result of arduous daily training requiring complete dedication.
Of course, your trainers and mentors also deserve recognition, as do all those who help you achieve your sporting triumphs, generously sharing their experience and knowledge and creating unique new training methods for you.
Thanks to your achievements, Russia is able to compete on an equal footing with the world’s leading sporting powers at the ParaOlympics and the Deaf Olympics and at other international competitions. We must admit that, completely unjustifiably, sports events for physically challenged people did not get enough attention, including from the media, for many decades.
It is pleasing to see that this situation is gradually changing now, in part thanks to your enthusiasm, your victories and, to put it simply, the fact that there is something to see and something to be proud of.
Financing for national and international competitions is also increasing. Presidential grants for national team members and their trainers were tripled as from February this year.
Last year, Russia organised television coverage of the ParaOlympic Games in Athens for the first time. I think that coverage of sports competitions of this level should definitely become normal practice.
I want to stress that we intend to continue increasing support for adaptive sport, getting federal, regional and private resources involved.
The construction of special sports facilities should become a priority. The number of such facilities has doubled over the last five years but this is still nowhere near enough, of course, to cover demand.
We will also take measures to ensure that our stadiums, swimming pools, sports facilities and halls are accessible for people with physical challenges, and that all these facilities have the necessary infrastructure for you and your supporters.
Overall, it is clear that we need to make a systemic and consistent effort to develop adaptive sport in Russia. For many people, especially young people, this is sometimes a vital question for their prospects in life. In such cases, sport can change the lives of many people, change the way society looks at them, give them a fuller life and enrich their inner world.
You have new competitions ahead of you and I sincerely hope they will bring you success.
I wish you luck, optimism and new victories and medals.
Thank you for your attention.