Speech at a Gala Evening to Celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the Founding of the Central Sports Club of the Army 2008-04-24 22:07:54 Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, respected athletes, dear veterans! Let me congratulate you with all my heart on the approaching 85th anniversary of this legendary and – as been has already been rightfully said – unique Sports Club of the Army (CSKA). I congratulate you on this auspicious occasion. In fact, this is not only a celebration for athletes and fans of the CSKA but also a great event in our country’s sporting life. The Sports Club’s traditions are very rich indeed. As a previous speaker has said, I don’t think there is another Club in the world that has won more than a thousand medals at the Olympic Games alone, and almost half of those medals have been gold. This is a unique achievement. Congratulations to all the athletes of all generations on this unique achievement. Your swordsmen and gymnasts have been applauded in famous stadiums all over the world. Indeed, CSKA athletes were the backbone of our legendary hockey and basketball teams. And three years ago, CSKA players delighted us with yet another victory: for the first time in the history of Russian football, we won a famous trophies, the UEFA cup. I congratulate you on this as well. But it is equally important to note that during these 85 years hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of our citizens have been trained by the CSKA, improving on their athletic achievements and strengthening their character. And this is an equally important achievement for the CSKA during these 85 years. Today I extend my warmest wishes and thanks to your coaches and educators. This is a dedicated team with very talented people. They are not only responsible for improving athletes' skills: it is no less important (and perhaps the most important) that they produce leaders and winners. And this is probably the most important thing that they do. A low bow to them. Modern Russian sports are growing steadily. We are constructing new stadiums, swimming pools, and skating rinks. I think you will agree with me that it is no accident that the 2014 Olympics will be held in Russia. This amounts to a recognition of Russia's achievements in sport, a recognition of merit. I am sure that the CSKA athletes will continue to be in the vanguard of Russian and world sports. I am confident that you will continue to delight your millions of fans, and will stand on the highest steps of award podiums. Good luck to you! Congratulations on the anniversary!